STEM Action Center creation likely

I am pleased that the STEM Action Center has passed both Chambers – this will be a terrific asset and tool for the students of Idaho.

The following article was originally published in The Coeur d’Alene Press on May 4, 2014, by Brian Walker. It has been republished here with express permission from The Coeur d’Alene Press.

Many spokes have formed around Idaho’s STEM education in recent years, and a hub for those spokes is coming through the Idaho Legislature.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday agreed to appropriate $650,000 in the first year toward the creation of a STEM Action Center.

“It will be exciting to get this off the ground,” said Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle. “Idaho has a lot of good things going on with STEM and this center, under the direction of the Governor’s Office, will give those a high-visibility hub for coordination and professional development.”

JFAC decided to appropriate around $200,000 per year after the first toward the action center. [Read more…]

Weekly Legislative Update (March 23-27)

idaho-capitol

CAREER LADDER – THE TEACHER-PAY BILL

The Senate voted 34 to 0 to approve HB 296 requiring significant increases in teacher pay over the next five years.  Sponsored by Senator Mortimer, this bill establishes a funding model for teacher pay based on a new compensation system for both residency and professional development compensation.  Many Senators voiced support for this legislation in that it provides an accountability system for raises, providing that teachers meet performance requirements.  In addition, teachers would be eligible for payments for additional educational degrees.  Although there has been much debate on whether the state can afford this legislation, many agreed that invest­ing in Idaho’s education professionals benefits Idaho’s economy and students in the long-run. [Read more…]

Weekly Legislative Update (March 16-20)

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PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION – The Senate voted 23 to 12 to approve SB 1096a to add a new chapter to Title 33, Idaho Code affirming parental rights in education.  Sponsored by Senator Den Hartog and Senator Souza, this new chapter affirms that a student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student.  This legislation places the state in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian. The chapter outlines how school districts and public charter schools encourage and facilitate parental involvement in the education of their children.  For instance, school districts and public charter schools are to inform parents about the materials being used in the education of their children.  Parents, who object to materials being used, have the option to withdraw their children from an activity or class.  The act requires an annual notice of parental rights be distributed to parents and guardians. [Read more…]

Weekly Legislative Update (March 9-13)

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STATE BUDGET UPDATE – The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) finished setting the state budget this week.  All budgets were set with the exception of public schools, which is being delayed due to the proposed “career ladder” for teachers.  JFAC desires that the policy decisions take place prior to the budgetary actions.  Not including public schools, the rest of the budget is at a modest 2.4 percent increase which is no small fete since it includes a 3 percent increase in compensation for state employees.  Overall, JFAC approved spending at $19 million less than the Governor recommended. [Read more…]

Weekly Legislative Update (February 23-27)

idaho-capitol

WELCOME BACK SENATOR LODGE! – Senator Patti Anne Lodge returned to the Senate this week and thanked those who sent cards and offered prayers during her illness and recovery. On the Senate Floor, Senator Lodge thanked Senator Kimberly Johnson of Caldwell who substituted for her for five weeks.

EMINENT DOMAIN – The Senate voted 20 to 13 to approve SB 1044 to amend Section 7-701A, Idaho Code, placing additional limitations on the use of eminent domain. This bill amends existing law to provide that eminent domain shall not be used for [Read more…]