Friday, November 9, 2012

Education reforms get an F from voters

Idahoans reject all 3 propositions

Express Staff Writer

Voters in Blaine County rejected education reforms approved by the state Legislature in 2011 in even larger numbers than occurred statewide.

All three reforms, appearing on the election ballot as Propositions 1, 2 and 3, were defeated in Tuesday’s general election.

Proposition 1 considered bargaining rights of teachers unions, Proposition 2 implemented a teacher pay-for-performance plan and Proposition 3 provided new technology to classrooms with state funding to be appropriated to supply every high school student in Idaho with a laptop computer.

A vote of yes would have upheld the reforms, while a vote of no rejected them.

Statewide, Proposition 1 was rejected by 57 percent of voters and supported by 43 percent. In Blaine County, 66 percent were opposed and 34 percent were in favor, by a vote of 6,513 to 3,389.

Proposition 2 failed statewide by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent. Blaine County voters rejected it 66 percent to 34 percent—6,600 votes to 3,389.

Proposition 3 failed by even a larger margin. Statewide, 67 percent opposed it and 33 percent were in favor. Blaine County voters rejected it by 72 percent to 28 percent—a vote of 7,174 to 2,740.

It was not clear this week what defeat of the propositions means to the Blaine County School District, except that repeal of the law concerning labor negotiations will likely change how negotiations are handled next spring.

“There are a lot of details to be determined, both on the state level and on the local level, and we will let our staff and community know as soon as we have more information,” district Communications Director Heather Crocker said.

For the last two years, negotiations between the district and the Blaine County Education Association have been conducted in public and have been restricted to salary and benefits. Prior to the approval of the education reforms, negotiations were held in private and concerned not only salary and benefits but other issues such as class size, grievance and layoff procedures, and performance evaluation processes.

A memorandum of understanding in the current contract between the district and the teachers union for the 2012-13 school year provides that if the education reforms are repealed, the parties will negotiate which items are returned to the bargaining table when negotiations are held for the 2013-14 school year. Negotiations are typically held in early May.

Terry Smith:

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