Two school board related bills take divergent paths in House

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Two school board related bills take divergent paths in House

Two school board related bills took divergent paths on Friday (2/2).


House State Affairs members defeated House Bill 1211, which requires all property tax opt out decisions be referred to a vote, on an 8-5 vote.


ASBSD opposed the bill.


ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany testified in opposition of the bill citing school boards keen awareness of the “delicate balance” of asking their patrons for additional dollars to help the district operate, but that the current process in place works as community members can decide whether a challenge to the needs is necessary.


“The patrons understand their school’s needs,” Pogany said.


Rep. Lee Qualm, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the change “just goes from may to shall” in reference to the referendum process.


Pogany contended the may to shall change could be costly to school districts as it would require a special election be held that “can cost school districts tens of thousands of dollars.”


“Schools don’t have that kind of money to use,” Pogany said.


Committee members passed House Bill 1172, which revises certain provisions regarding meetings of certain public bodies, on a 10-1 vote, but amended a portion of the bill that raised concern with ASBSD.


The initial version of HB 1172 prohibited a school board from holding executive session for the duration of a board meeting.


“It’s not uncommon for governing boards to have a special meeting for one item,” ASBSD Policy and Legal Services Director Gerry Kaufman testified.


That portion of the bill was removed from the bill by the committee leaving just a section requiring public comment at a meeting with the period of time for comment being left to the boar chair’s discretion.


“Any policy regarding public input or public forum…should be for the locally elected governing body to determine,” Kaufman testified.


ASBSD remains opposed to the bill, which will head to the House floor for review.


For updates on legislative session, check the ASBSD BlogBill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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