Coalition Newsletter End of Legislative Session
This newsletter is being written as the Idaho House of Representatives is in its last hour of the 2016 Legislature (afternoon of March 25). The Senate finalized its business last night and closed sine die. The House is about to adjourn also.
Of interest to Coalition Members, is the news that both Senate and House have now Passed HB 603, a bill that would provide a little more than $1 million to schools that experience enrollment growth during the school year. Coalition leadership and members worked from January to March 24th to pass a bill that will provide additional funding help virtual charter schools and alternative schools that accept at-risk transfer students.
While this small amount is helpful, it does not meet the need. Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, said the bill would provide funding for only eight schools that have experienced growth of at least 3 percent during the year — and doesn’t help students who transfer to other schools.
HB 603 now goes to Gov. Butch Otter, who vetoed a similar bill on student mobility bill in 2015.
DESPITE RESERVATIONS, SENATE OKS STUDENT MOBILITY BILL
Kevin Richert 03/24/2016
One lawmaker called it a “pittance.” Another said it was “disservice” to some students.
But the Senate set its reservations aside long enough to pass a stopgap “student mobility” bill on a 34-1 vote.
House Bill 603 would provide a little more than $1 million to schools that experience enrollment growth during the school year. Supporters say the money would help virtual charter schools and alternative schools that accept at-risk transfer students.
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, said the bill would provide funding for only eight schools that have experienced growth of at least 3 percent during the year — and doesn’t help students who transfer to other schools.
“I hope you realize that we may have to come back and do something more,” she said.
The Legislature is certainly going to revisit this complicated issue. HB 603 would be in effect for only three years, while a legislative interim committee takes a more detailed look at the entire school funding formula.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer conceded the state could do more to help growing schools — but not this year. “This is the best we can get,” said Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls.
Earlier this week, Mortimer’s committee voted to send the bill to the Senate floor for amendment — with Ward-Engelking and other senators hoping to expand the bill to cover more schools. Ultimately, the bill was left as is.
HB 603 now goes to Gov. Butch Otter, who vetoed a student mobility bill in 2015.
STUDENT MOBILITY BILL RUNS INTO A ROAD BLOCK
Clark Corbin 03/22/2016
For most of the legislative session, lawmakers and charter school officials have been trying to hammer out a bill to address “student mobility:” providing funding for schools that add students during the school year.
On Tuesday, that bill’s circuitous path to passage became a bit more complicated.
The Senate Education Committee voted to send the student mobility bill to the floor for amendments. And the bill’s House sponsor, Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, expressed concern about an 11th-hour rewrite.
“This has been carefully crafted legislation,” said DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, moments before the committee vote.
The student mobility issue has been a conundrum since the 2015 session, when Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a bill supported by charter and virtual school leaders. House Bill 603 attempts to address the issue — at least for the time being. Schools would be eligible for additional money if they absorbed more than 3 percent growth during the academic year.
Supporters say the bill is designed to help virtual and alternative schools that take on at-risk students during the course of the academic year. On Tuesday, senators heard from Monti Pittman, head of the Idaho College and Career Readiness Academy, where enrollment has skyrocketed from 68 to 121 students during the course of the year.
Committee members were hung up on the 3 percent threshold — and several said they wanted to reword the bill to help more growing schools.
“I think we have enough money to do more,” said Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise.
Other committee members echoed DeMordaunt’s concerns — and said a late-session rewrite could kill student mobility legislation for one more year.
“The hour is late,” said Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene. “The day is late.”
With lawmakers hoping to adjourn the 2016 session this week, time is tight.
First, senators would need to amend the bill and pass it. Then the bill would have to go back to the House, and lawmakers would have to buy off on the Senate amendments. Only then could the bill go to Otter’s desk.
Also unresolved is the funding. As written now, HB 603 has a projected price tag of about $1 million — and amendments could drive up that cost. The Joint Finance-Appropriation Committee hasn’t set aside any money for student mobility
In other States
Washington Examiner | March 24, 2016
A new project called the Education Equality Index grades schools on how well they close the educational gap between rich and poor students. Charter schools make up 7 percent of all public schools nationwide, but 30 percent of the schools identified as closing the gap in the index. "While we celebrate the schools that are significantly improving student achievement, this report is a reminder of the need for even more high-quality charter schools," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.