Thursday, February 24, 2011

Idaho Senate Approves Major Parts of Students Come First Reform Package

BOISE – The Idaho Senate today approved two major parts of the Students Come First reform package. On a 20-15 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110.

“This is a great day for Idaho, and its children,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “With these two bills, we have reformed the way we pay teachers, and we have reformed the way school districts can operate by returning authority and flexibility to locally elected school boards. Next, we must reform Idaho's classrooms so all students learn in a 21st century classroom and are prepared to succeed in the world that awaits them.”

The Students Come First reform package has been presented to the Idaho Legislature in three different bills: Senate Bills 1108, 1110, and 1113. Senate Bill 1108 returns authority and flexibility to the locally elected school boards by phasing out tenure, limiting collective bargaining to salaries and benefits, tying teacher and administrator evaluations to student achievement, and giving Idaho parents input on teacher performance evaluations. Senate Bill 1110 implements a pay-for-performance plan that will recognize and reward Idaho’s teachers for working in hard-to-fill positions, taking on leadership responsibilities, and working in a school that shows academic growth. Teachers could earn up to $8,000 in bonuses a year under this plan.

Senate Bill 1113, which will likely be taken up in Senate Education Committee next week, will reform the classroom and better prepare Idaho kids for the 21st century by stabilizing the state’s public schools budget, restoring teacher pay, infusing an unprecedented amount of technology in the classroom, and requiring students to take online courses before graduation.

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