Conference Committee Adopts First Budget Items. The conference committee on the omnibus education finance and policy bill met briefly this morning and adopted provisions that contained funding for the first time during the overall proceedings. The conference committee approved Article 4, which deals with both funding and policy items related to American Indian Education. The funding portions of the Article spend a total of $59.3 million over the biennium, which in the neighborhood of the amounts in both bills ($60.9 million in the House bill and $59.8 million in the Senate bill). The policy item in the Article that has drawn the most attention during the session would allow school districts to keep a Native American-based mascot if all eleven federal-recognized Tribal Nations and the Tribal Nations Education Committee approve the application of the school requesting to continue using the mascot.
Here is the spreadsheet for the Article: American Indian Education Spreadsheet
Omnibus Labor Policy Bill. The Senate spent most of the day discussing and ultimately passing the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act this afternoon and I hoped they would appoint conferees on SF 1384, the omnibus labor relations act. There are provisions in the House bill that would include teachers to negotiate class sizes, e-learning days, and student testing calendars and changing the inherent managerial right of school boards to make decisions about the number of personnel. The Senate bill does not include these provisions and so a conference committee will be convened to work out the differences that exist between the bills. It is important that school board members and administrators provide input to the eventual conferees and their local legislators about how the House provisions would really erode the power of school boards to determine the direction of the delivery of education goods, which is their right as the elected body to represent the interests of school communities. Stay tuned.