Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Third Bill in Students Come First Reform Package Moves to Full Senate

On a 6-3 vote, the Senate Education Committee approved the third bill in the Students Come First education reform package. The bill now heads to the full Senate for approval.

The bill approved today is a revised version of Senate Bill 1113. The new bill reforms the classroom and stabilizes the public schools budget next year. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has already signed into law the other two parts of the education reform package.

“I am pleased with the compromise senators reached on this bill,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “It gives our local school districts the additional flexibility they requested while still reforming our classrooms to give teachers and students the tools they need to raise academic achievement.”

Here are the highlights of Senate Bill 1184, the third bill in Students Come First education reform package:
  • Local control: The bill gives Idaho school districts the local control and flexibility they requested in setting budgets next year. It no longer increases the student-teacher ratio to find cost savings.
  • Teacher pay: The bill increases the minimum teacher pay to $30,000 a year, restores education credits in the salary grid, and funds further movement on the grid for teachers. The salary grid for teachers has been frozen for the past two years.
  • More parent involvement: The bill empowers parents by giving them access to local school district budgets and master agreements online as well as a fiscal report card for every school district in Idaho.
  • One-to-one ratio: The bill implements a one-to-one ratio of students to mobile computing devices in every public high school within five years. Idaho’s high school teachers will receive these devices and professional development first in Fall 2012. Students will have access to these devices in the classroom beginning in Fall 2013.
  • Advanced classroom technology: The state will give teachers the tools they need in the classroom by investing $10 million a year for instructional technology and $3 million for professional development.
  • Online courses: The bill directs the State Board of Education to develop an online course requirement for the Class of 2016.
  • Statewide task force: The bill creates a statewide task force to develop plans for implementing the one-to-one mobile computing devices, advanced classroom technology, and online course requirement. The task force will include superintendents, principals, classroom teachers, educational technology experts, representatives of the business community, leaders of educational stakeholder groups, and legislators.

~ Melissa M.

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