IDAHO FALLS — Members of the executive board of the Idaho School Board Association (ISBA) have announced ISBA's support of Proposition 1.
"We urge Idahoans to vote YES on Proposition 1 in November to support this return of local governance and ensure it remains in place in future years," said Wendy Horman, past president of the ISBA and a trustee in the Bonneville District.
"Since the Students Come First laws passed in 2011, we have worked closely with our members on implementing these laws and recently surveyed our members on how the laws in Proposition 1 have worked in their districts," Horman said.
Reasons listed for support of this proposition are:
° Prop 1 returns local governance to locally elected leaders.
° Prop 1 focuses negotiations on salaries and benefits. This gives the local school boards and district more authority and flexibility in how to set local school district policies.
° Prop 1 phases out tenure, or lifetime contracts, for new teachers. This gives the local school board and district more authority and flexibility over hiring practices and employment decisions made at the local level.
° Prop 1 removes the "evergreen clause" so master agreements must be re-negotiated each year in open, public meetings. This gives the current local school board and district more flexibility to budget effectively and efficiently based on the revenue available in a given fiscal year.
"We must be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars every year and cannot be shackled by agreements that were negotiated years ago by boards that are long gone," Horman said.
° Prop 1 eliminates seniority or contract status as factors in reduction-in-force decisions. This gives the local school board and district more authority and flexibility over the tough staffing decisions that must be made when faced with declining enrollment or decreased funding.
"Local school boards need this flexibility to make the best possible decision for the students in their district and we now have it under Prop 1," Horman said.
Karen Echeverria, executive director of ISBA, said for the past three years, the ISBA has been involved in crafting these propositions.
"We [ISBA] were the first to testify about the propositions," Echeverria said.
"Prop 1 allows us to govern and do what we're supposed to do rather than be saddled with master agreements, said Snake River trustee Julie VanOrden. She is also the Region 5 vice chair of the ISBA.
Some master agreements were established years ago by school boards whose members have been gone for decades, she said. In Snake River, any funds in the contingency fund over 5.5 percent must be negotiated with the teachers in the master agreement.
A contingency fund is a reserve fund set aside to handle unexpected expenses.
"The decision [to support the passage of Prop 1] was based on the number of surveys that were returned (108 returned out of 115 mailed) and the fact that negotiations went a lot better for every district in the state," VanOrden said. "Prop 1 gives more local control to local boards."
The ISBA are not taking a position on Prop 2 or Prop 3.
"Prop 1 most directly affects school boards," the ISBA executive director said.
The ISBA is a non-profit, service organization providing policy services, legislative advocacy, leadership support and quality, cost-efficient board training to association members.
The association was founded in 1942 and now serves more than 560 locally elected school board members across Idaho.