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Eye On Boise

Of ‘tenure,’ continuing contracts, and what would and wouldn’t change…

Before she proposed her four pieces of new legislation this afternoon, Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association, said she thought the Idaho Education Association, the state’s teachers union, really only objected to two parts of the voter-rejected Proposition 1: Banning teachers from negotiating any issues other than salary or benefits, and “the protection of their tenure and continuing contracts.” She said, “The ISBA will not be bringing any legislation on those two issues.”

However, the bill she proposed today to repeal a law about teacher salaries dropping from one year to the next strikes at the heart of Idaho’s continuing contract law, the closest thing the state has to tenure for public school teachers. Under the law, which official state records show has been on the books in Idaho since at least 1963 before being briefly repealed by “Students Come First,” teachers with at least three years on the job who are granted continuing contract rights are eligible to have their contracts automatically renewed “for the same length as the term stated in the current contract and at a salary no lower than that specified therein, to which shall be added such increments as may be determined by the statutory or regulatory rights of such employee by reason of training or service.”

The law also requires that before a school district can decide to renew a teacher’s contract at a reduced salary due to performance issues, the teacher is entitled to a probationary period. Echeverria’s bill repeals that clause as well.

The new language on contract renewals for teachers with continuing contract rights, under the bill, would specify that automatically renewable contracts “may be renewed for a shorter term, longer term or the same length of term as stated in the current contract and at a greater, lesser or equal salary as that stated in the current contract.”

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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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