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Four bills introduced to reinstate parts of voter-rejected ‘Students Come First’ laws

Four new bills proposed by the Idaho School Boards Association were introduced on party-line votes this afternoon in the Senate Education Committee to roll back collective bargaining rights for Idaho teachers, echoing some of the provisions in the voter-repealed Proposition 1. On all four, the panel's two Democrats, Sens. Branden Durst and Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise, cast the only “no” votes. “They’re all toned-down parts of what we saw in Students Come First,” said Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, who said he supports the measures.

The four bills would:

- Limit all teacher contract provisions to one year.

- Require local teachers unions to prove every year that they have the support of 50 percent plus one of the local teachers, before they’re allowed to bargain on their behalf, and require proof of ratification of contracts by both sides.

- Repeal a state law that now requires that experienced teachers' salaries not be reduced from one year to the next. The voter-repealed “Students Come First” laws repealed that law; the November referendum vote reinstated it. Under the new bill, teacher pay, contract length and terms could be adjusted up or down at the will of the local school board each year. This bill also would permit school districts to place teachers on leave without pay if a criminal order prevents them from fulfilling their contracts.

- Require courts to consider rulings from hearing examiners when they take up issues from teacher termination hearings.

All those provisions except the last two, on termination hearings and leave without pay, reinstate parts of the “Students Come First” laws. Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association, said she’ll be introducing three more bills tomorrow in the House Education Committee.


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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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