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Bill Tries For ‘Cough Relief’

Rep. Carol Pietsch, D-Sandpoint, made good on a promise to try and get $150,000 back for the Bonner County School District.

Pietsch sponsored a bill allowing greater flexibility in state payments to districts that keep schools open during outbreaks of sickness.

Her bill passed the House unanimously on Thursday.

Pietsch’s aim is to regain state money lost by Bonner County schools due to a whooping cough epidemic last November.

Traditionally, schools have closed down when struck with widespread sickness, and are exempted from attendance based funding when they do so.

But when Bonner officials decided to keep their doors open for healthy kids, at the behest of the Panhandle Health District, they found Idaho law had no recourse for school districts that stay open.

“Schools used to just shut down when the laws were written. Now health issues have changed and there’s a different philosophy,” she said.

Under Pietsch’s proposal, districts struck with large absentee rates due to sickness would get their regular state funding.