Eye On Boise

Senate Ed passes Nonini ed bill

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, presents HB 374 to the Senate Education Committee late on Thursday afternoon. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, presents HB 374 to the Senate Education Committee late on Thursday afternoon. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

There was some heated debate and a divided, 6-3 vote, but the Senate Education Committee has approved HB 374, Rep. Bob Nonini's latest education funding bill. The measure restores language about virtual education that the Senate amended out of a previous education funding bill, HB 303. "If we're going to try to move traditional settings to virtual classes, we're going to need to move this legislation," Nonini told the committee. Sen. Dick Sagness, D-Pocatello, criticized the move, and said, "It doesn't wash." Nonini said, "It is confusing, for sure. We had quite the issue on the House floor today. ... It was very hard to follow." But Nonini said that was just because the new bill is essentially a trailer bill, or amendment that trails after the original bill, to an already-amended HB 303.

Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, said, "Part of education for kids is interaction with other children, and I hope we don't get into a position where we think education is sitting a kid in front of a computer." Said Sagness, "I think virtual education is a very good tool ... I have no problem with that, I think it can be extremely useful. But to jump into it without having policy safeguards concerns me." When Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, questioned provisions in the bill she said were unclear, Nonini told her, "I can assure you, Sen. Kelly, I'm not trying to sneak anything in here." Nonini said the measure is designed to encourage and allow traditional schools in Idaho to offer online classes, and allow them to do so within their existing funding. Some Idaho school districts, including Bonneville County, already have expressed interest in doing that, he said. There, the district hopes to offer online classes to kids who currently are home-schooled.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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