Idaho School Boards Want To Bring Back Parts Of 'Students Come First' Laws

Jan 29, 2013

Members of the Meridian Education Association negotiating in an open meeting last spring. The MEA and the district reached an agreement just before the deadline but in other districts teachers had to take the last best offer.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The group that represents Idaho’s school boards asked lawmakers Tuesday to bring back parts of the Students Come First laws. Voters repealed those last November.

The new bill would bring back open meetings for labor negotiations. The same bill would again allow school districts to set contract terms if negotiations with local unions were not concluded by a certain date.

Monday the group introduced two other bills taken from Students Come First. One would require local teachers’ unions to prove each year they represent more than 50 percent of a district’s teachers in order to have collective bargaining. Another limits labor agreement’s to one year.

In November, 57 percent of Idaho voters rejected the teacher bargaining law by saying no to Proposition 1. But Karen Echeverria with the Idaho School Boards Association says most school district trustees supported it.

“The Idaho School Boards Association as a whole took a position in support of proposition 1. Then after the props went down we had this resolution [with the provisions in the new bills] come through our convention,” she says. “It was voted on by all the members, and it was supported three to one by the school districts in our state.”

The Idaho Education Association has not responded to requests for comment on the new bills. The state-wide teachers union was the major opponent of Proposition 1. House and Senate education chairs reportedly plan to meet with representatives from the IEA later this week before these bills get a public hearing.