BOISE -- In less than a month voters will have the opportunity to decide whether propositions 1, 2, and 3 remain law. When passed in the legislature the three measures were part of a comprehensive education reform package, but now voters could pass some and fail some. What happens then?
There are many people who are confused about these referenda. While some questions have answers, others don’t - at least not yet.
Election Day is November 6th. Idahoans will vote to either repeal or uphold propositions 1, 2 and 3. Voting ‘yes,’ keeps the laws as they currently are. A ‘no’ vote would repeal the laws. Voters can vote yes on some and no on the others. This is not an all or nothing vote, and that includes the money backing the laws.
"They are not financially dependent on one another," said Melissa McGrath with the Idaho Department of Education.
McGrath says House Bill 698, passed in 2012, made it so funds could not be shifted from one law to another. Between propositions 2 and 3 there's $53 million budgeted to be distributed to schools this year.
"If the laws are repealed on November 6th, there is uncertainty around whether or not the future funding can be distributed," said McGrath.
The bulk of that $38 million is for proposition 2, pay for performance.
Every year the state pays districts five times. The next payment is set for November 15th, nine days after the election. That $38 million is supposed to go to districts on that date.
"We will do everything legally possible to pay this payment on November 15th and to make sure that it ends up in teachers' hands," said McGrath. “It is uncertain whether or not that's going to be possible if the law is repealed. And the reason we want to make sure people understand that is because we never want to promise a teacher that they're going to get a bonus if there's a possibility that they're not going to."
The state notified districts last month that the issue of whether that money gets into the teachers' hands is complicated. If prop 2 is repealed, the secretary of state will need to ratify the vote before the 15th. The attorney general and the courts will most likely get involved.
"I think that there are a lot of questions out there, understandably so, but mostly because this has never happened before in the state of Idaho," said McGrath.
Proposition 3 deals with technology in the classroom and has $18.5 million attached to it. Schools have already received some of that money, but the bulk of it is set to be paid in February. Most of that money is for laptops or other devices. The state is still working on a contract with a distributor for those computers.
"If the law is repealed before that contract is signed or a portion of that money goes toward that product then yes, that's correct, that funding will not, we will not be able to use that funding," said McGrath.
If propositions 2 and 3 are repealed, then the money attached to each law would go back to an education stabilization fund or rainy day account.
The legislature would then need to decide how best to use that money, but it will go to Idaho schools. If proposition 1 is repealed, that outcome is also unclear what will happen with teachers negotiating their contracts or tenure. We do know that the early retirement incentive for teachers would automatically be re-established. If voters repeal the laws, there are budget items that will automatically be re-established.
Those three items amount to $18 million, but again, it's unclear when schools would get access to that money.
Here is a breakdown of what McGrath provided to KTVB:
Here are the budget items for which we will lose authority to expend or distribute funds if the Students Come First laws are repealed on November 6, 2012:
1. Pay for Performance ($38,774,600) – Proposition 2
2. Technology (approx. $6,807,000 of $13,613,900 will not yet be distributed) – Proposition 3
3. High School Redesign Math/Science Teachers ($4,850,000) – Proposition 3
4. Dual Credit for Early Completers ($842,400) – Proposition 3
5. One-to-One Laptop Program, Year One (approx. $2,000,000 of $2,558,800 will not yet be spent) – Proposition 3
TOTAL LOST FOR SCHOOLS: $53,274,000
Here are the budget items that would be automatically re-established if the Students Come First laws are repealed on November 6, 2012, and for which distributions would then be made:
1. Early Retirement Incentive Program for Teachers ($3,500,000) – Proposition 1
2. National Board Certification Awards ($219,600) – Proposition 3
3. Return of re-allocated “5th Factor” funds to salary-based apportionment (14,789,200) – Proposition 3
TOTAL GAINED FOR SCHOOLS: $18,508,800
Links to information on Propositions 1, 2, 3:
Idaho Department of Education website: studentscomefirst.org
Questions as they will appear on November ballot
Vote No website: votenoprop123.com