2020 Legislative Recap

2020 Legislative Recap

by Blake Youde & Emily McClure

The 2020 legislative session was a tumultuous one. The first month was marked by a complete review of the state’s administrative rules. In education, that meant a review of more than 500 pages of rules dictating how our state’s education laws are to be implemented. While the House Education Committee voted to reject several rules, including rejecting the Idaho Content Standards, the Senate Education Committee ultimately voted to preserve those same rules. When the Legislature adjourned for the year, there was no consensus on the rules, meaning the Governor will need to reissue them, and a new review process will be conducted during the 2021 legislative session.

The State Department of Education and State Board of Education have pledged to go through a thorough review of the Idaho Content Standards.  This is being done at the request of the House and Senate Education Committees as a result of the disagreement over whether the state’s current academic standards are appropriate.

In other developments, the FY 2021 public education budget was again increased – this time by more than four percent over the FY 2020 budget. A significant part of this increase is a result of legislation (H523) adding a third rung to the career ladder to increase state salary funding for veteran teachers.

ICSN’s legislative agenda included three bills, and we were successful in passing them all.

S1329 (Sen. Lent/Rep. Boyle)

This legislation is intended to help schools recruit industry professionals to become CTE instructors. Specifically, the legislation does three things:

  1. New instructors coming from industry are initially placed on the career ladder based on years of relevant industry experience. Also, current CTE instructors will be given the same credit for industry experience even if it causes placement on a rung higher than their current placement.
  2. The $3,000 salary apportionment allocation for each CTE instructor holding an occupational specialist certificate is to be paid to the instructor, rather than going to a school’s general fund.
  3. The CTE educator certification requirements are streamlined for industry professionals moving to CTE teaching.  The State Board of Education is required to authorize issuance of a CTE certificate to an individual who has:
    • Passed a criminal background check
    • Meets one of the following requirements:
      • Holds or has held a relevant industry certificate; or
      • Has at least 6,000 of relevant industry experience; or
      • Has a bachelor’s degree in a related content are and 2,000 of relevant professional experience
    • Completes an educator training program or courses approved by the CTE Division (the CTE Division has been directed to shorten and simply Inspire program to meet this requirement).

Emily McClure, lobbyist for ICSN, was instrumental in drafting the legislation for Sen. Lent. Terry Ryan testified in support of the legislation.  The legislation has been signed into law by Governor Little.

H511a (Rep. Goesling/ Sen. Crabtree)

This is charter school financial accountability legislation. House bill 511 states that if public charter school ends its fiscal year with less than fifteen days cash on hand, the school has one full fiscal year to cure any deficiency.  If the school fails to correct the deficiency, the school’s authorizer is to begin the charter revocation process.

The legislation provides a clear timeline:

  • A school ends its fiscal year (June 30).  At that time, it can tell how much cash on hand is in its account(s).
  • Every charter school completes a financial audit at the end if the fiscal year, and it must be submitted to the state by November 10.  The authorizer can use that audit to verify if a school ends the fiscal year with more or less than 15 days cash on hand.
  • If the audit shows that the school has less than 15 days cash on hand, then the authorizer must send notice to the school by November 30 that the school must end the following fiscal year with 15 or more days cash on hand or the charter revocation process will begin.
  • This timing allows the school to complete the year with its standard state payments but tells the school not to start enrollment for the following year.

Charter schools in their first two years of operation are exempted to ensure they have an opportunity to stabilize operations before this cash on hand requirement is invoked and because charter schools authorized by the Public Charter School Commission are required by policy to have 30-days cash on hand during their first two years of operation.  The legislation also does not apply to virtual charter schools.

Emily McClure, lobbyist for ICSN, drafted the legislation.  ICSN Executive Director Blake Youde presented the legislation in both House and Senate Education Committees.  Both McClure and Youde lobbied the legislature in support of the bill.  The legislation has been signed into law by Governor Little.

H512 (Rep. Boyle/Sen. Den Hartog)

H512 allows public charter schools to conduct a weighted student enrollment lottery.  This legislation allows public charter schools, if they choose, to give additional weight in their student enrollment lottery to 1) English language learners, 2) students who are homeless or in foster care, 3) students with disabilities, 4) economically disadvantaged students, or 5) those that are at-risk students.  The intent to provide additional weight in the enrollment lottery for one or more of these student groups must be included in the school’s charter petition.  Existing charter schools can work with their authorizer to amend their petition to include a weighted lottery.

The language was developed based on guidance from the US Dept. of Education and a review of other state statutes.  USDE guidance does not provide specific weights per student group.  However, it is clear that weighting cannot be applied to establish quotas or achieve specific enrollment ratios.  Guidance is also clear that weighting is limited to the five groups listed in H512.  Race, ethnicity, religion and gender are prohibited.

Emily McClure, lobbyist for ICSN, drafted the legislation. ICSN Executive Director Blake Youde presented the legislation in both House and Senate Education Committees.  Both McClure and Youde lobbied the legislature in support of the bill.  The legislation has been signed into law by Governor Little.

There is no clear path yet for 2021 legislative session. Clearly, COVID-19 has us all operating in uncharted territory. We will keep you apprised on any developments at the state level, and feel free to offer any suggestions for state policy changes that could help you in providing a great education to Idaho students.