The House Education Committee has voted 12-3 along party lines to introduce legislation reinstating two more provisions from the voter-rejected Proposition 1: Requiring that teacher contract negotiations be conducted in public, and allowing school districts to unilaterally impose contract terms if an agreement isn’t reached in negotiations with local teachers unions by a June 10 deadline. The panel's three Democrats opposed the move.
Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, said, “It bothers me that this particular bill was basically on the ballot and our constituents, voters spoke about this. I don’t think I had a real problem with the public negotiations. But it seems to me that when you’re negotiating and one side can enforce the last best offer at a given point, it kind of puts all the marbles on that person’s side.” She asked Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria, “So, could you just talk about that? What’s the incentive for both sides to give and compromise when one group knows that at the end of this time, their offer will be accepted?”
Echeverria responded, “Both parties have to negotiate in good faith, and good faith is defined. … You indicate that all the marbles seem to be in one place here. I go back again to these are locally elected officials, and it is their statutory responsibility to manage the district, and that includes the finances of the district. So it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make that decision, if no agreement can be reached.”
Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said, “I have some feeling about printing RS’s involving a law that was just turned down by the voters. But as you all know, these laws contained various elements, and it’s hard to tell exactly what reason people voted against these various measures. … I think as a Legislature, we have a responsibility to sort through these laws and pick out the good parts, so I think it’s appropriate that we do this.”
Two other bills that Echeverria proposed were introduced on unanimous votes in the committee; they deal with criteria for the return of teacher contracts each year, including allowing them to be sent by email; and with teacher layoffs, specifying that other factors must be considered before seniority is taken into account. Those are revised versions of features of the voter-repealed Proposition 1. Today’s introduction clears the way for full hearings in the committee on the measures.
Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, House Education chairman, said, “I appreciate the work of the School Boards Association in bringing this to us, and look forward to further discussion on these issues.”