The Idaho Senate voted 20-15 on Thursday to pass the third piece of a plan to reform the state’s public schools.
The bill advanced to the House despite opposition from public school trustees, administrators and the statewide teachers union over how the legislation will fund new technology upgrades in the classroom.
The legislation was reworked amid protest over provisions in the previous bill that would have required online learning and armed students with laptops while also increasing class sizes and cutting 770 teaching jobs to pay for the reforms.
Under the new bill, increased class sizes and the decision of whether to cut jobs would now be left to the local districts. Idaho would shift money from public school funding used primarily for teacher salaries to fund the new technology upgrades and a new teacher pay-for-performance plan.
For some lawmakers, that funding mechanism was still a sticking point, even though they supported other parts of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis was among eight Republicans joining Democrats in voting against the measure.
The new bill directs the state Board of Education to draft standards governing online course requirements and the implementation of laptop computers.
Gov. Butch Otter has already signed two other parts of Public Schools Chief Tom Luna’s reform package into law, phasing out tenure for new educators and restricting collective bargaining while introducing teacher merit pay. (AP)