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Eye On Boise

Luna updates lawmakers on ‘Students Come First’ reforms

Idaho's “Students Come First” school reform laws have been in effect for about nine months, state schools chief Tom Luna told the House and Senate education committees this afternoon. “Since these laws passed, my staff and I have worked diligently with local school districts, and the organizations that represent them, to implement these laws successfully statewide,” he said.

Among the law's provisions: That teacher union negotiations with school districts take place in open meetings. Luna said that's been a success. “People on both sides of the negotiating table have told me these discussions were more civil being held in open public meetings,” he said. “Master agreements were signed on time and in place before the school year began.” The new laws also limited teacher contract negotiations solely to pay and benefits; Luna said other issues that used to be part of negotiations, like school schedules, are now part of school districts' policies or employee handbooks.

Luna also touted the performance-pay bonus plan included in the law, and emphasized that under his budget proposal for next year, regular teacher salary funds wouldn't be cut to pay for that, as Students Come First requires, because he's calling for shifting other, additional funds to offset those cuts.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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