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February24

Accountability adjustment bills falter on floors

Two bills aimed at adjusting accountability faltered on their respective chamber floors last week (2/22).

 

On a 32-34 vote, Representatives defeated House Bill 1128, which revises certain provisions regarding increases in teacher compensation.

 

HB 1128 required school districts to meet the teacher compensation accountability standard by increasing salaries by 65 percent of the actual percentage provided to them in state aid for the next school year. For the 2016-17 school year, districts were required to meet an 85 percent threshold.

 

The bill was amended on the floor to remove the clause that stated a school district met the accountability standard if their average teacher compensation is greater than the state’s target teacher compensation from the previous school year.

 

Sen. Dan Ahlers, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the bill cleaned up “obsolete language” and would “continue to push teacher pay up.”

 

Rep. John Lake opposed the additional mandate noting the 85 percent threshold put some districts in a position where they had “bankrupt themselves” to meet the requirement as other factors came into play affecting the amount in state aid they received.

 

ASBSD opposed the bill.

 

On the other side of the Capitol, Senators sent away Senate Bill 213, revises certain education funding provisions, on a 13-22 vote.

 

SB 213 would have tied a teacher compensation increase for the next school year to their state aid increase. ASBSD supported the bill.

 

Sen. Troy Heinert, the bill’s prime sponsor, said schools “can’t give that next step in raises” if they “don’t get the money” in a state aid increase.

 

“As long as we give them the money, this is a non-issue,” Sen. Heinert said. “This just buttons down what we’re trying to do.”

 

Sen. Deb Soholt voiced concern with the bill’s language permitting districts to “retract teacher salaries” and noted accountability requirements are “already clarified in statute.”

 

“This would be redundant statute interpretation,” Sen. Soholt said.

 

With neither bill adjusting the accountability standard, for the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, districts will be required to have their average teacher compensation at or above the 2016-17 level. There are no accountability requirements this school year.

 

For updates on the final two weeks of legislative session, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page, Twitter feed and Facebook page.

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