Democratic Sens. Branden Durst, Cherie Buckner-Webb, and Dan Schmidt unsuccessfully offered amendments to SB 1147, the bill that requires that teachers get only one-year contracts. This is one of the controversial school labor laws that was proposed by the Idaho School Boards Association this year and has a one-year expiration date. Buckner-Webb proposed an amendment to say that school districts “may” offer one-year contracts to teachers, rather than that they “shall.” Durst, arguing for the amendment, said, “Why as a state are we advocating a top-down mandate? We’re saying … that we as a state know better than our local school boards. … If a district wants to allow multi-year contracts, they should be allowed to do it.” The amendment was voted down, however, as was another from Durst and Schmidt to state that all parties to the negotiation process must consent to terms before they take effect.
“The deck is being stacked,” Durst complained. “We are stacking the deck on one side, and saying to the other side, ‘Deal with it.’”
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, and Buckner-Webb proposed amendments to SB 1148, another one-year bill regarding teacher contracts, that says teacher contracts can be issued for shorter or longer terms, and for greater, lesser or equal salaries, than the preceding contracts. Durst noted that Idaho voters rejected the teacher contract changes in Proposition 1 in November. “It was clearly stated by those that elect us that continuing contracts should not be dispensed with,” he told the Senate, but the Democratic amendments were voted down.