BOISE -- The controversial technology element of Superintendent Tom Luna's plan to reform Idaho's public schools was returned Wednesday to the Senate Education Committee, where it narrowly passed on a 5-4 vote last week.
The billwas pulled from the Idaho Senate calendar at the request of Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde. The other bills associated with the education reform will be voted on by the full SenateThursday.
We still have a little work to do on this, Goedde said. We tried and it didn't quite get there, so we're going to try again.
Public schools chief Tom Luna's sweeping overhaul was unveiled at the start of the 2011 session.The legislation would boost technology in the classroom, require students to take online courses and bump up the minimum teacher pay to $30,000 while also increasing classroom sizes to pay for a bulk of the reforms. The plan would require Idaho to shed about 770 teaching jobs as more courses are taught online and class sizes increase.
The plan wasintroduced in Goedde's committee in early February with backing from Republican leadership. The committee later eased the online course requirements and made other changes amid opposition from parents, teachers and some lawmakers.
Luna also clarified that schools don't have to increase classroom sizes, which is expected to pay for a bulk of the reforms, but could lower teacher pay instead.
Republican leaders in the Idaho Senate said earlier this week they were working to further calm anxieties over the proposed overhaul, with increased classroom sizes among the chief concerns, in order to secure its passage.
The legislation is the largest of three school reform bills Goedde's committee sent to the Senate floor amid strong opposition from the state teachers union and other groups.
The two bills that remain in the Idaho Senatewould introduce merit pay and award bonuses for teachers who take on hard-to-fill positions or leadership roles, while also phasing out tenure for new educators, who would instead be offered one- to two-year contracts following a probationary period.
The legislation would also restrict collective bargaining agreements to salaries and benefits.
This is another positive step toward reforming education in Idaho, Luna said in a statement. If there are improvements that can be made to Senate Bill 1113, we are open to those ideas. This is how the legislative process works, and I look forward to working with the Senate to pass this reform package.