IEA: School election results bode well for overturning Luna laws (UPDATED, 1:59 p.m.)

UPDATED, 1:59 p.m., with comments from state schools superintendent Tom Luna's office.

Heading into a Nov. 6 ballot showdown on the Students Come First education overhaul, Idaho's teachers' union sees Tuesday's school levy elections as a rallying point.

Twenty school districts held levy and bond issue elections. Voters in 19 districts, including Nampa and Kuna, said yes to school proposals.

“Tuesday’s vote was a resounding thumbs up for public schools and for local control,” Idaho Education Association President Penny Cyr said in a news release this morning. “In every part of Idaho, voters clearly reject the top-down approaches promoted by Idaho Superintendent of Public Education Tom Luna and his friends in the Idaho Legislature. Voters see that the teachers and administrators in their district know what works best for their kids — not bureaucrats in the capitol building. They’re willing to put their tax dollars behind that assertion.”

The IEA's assertions drew fire from Melissa McGrath, a spokeswoman for state schools superintendent Tom Luna.

"Some school districts chose to go to the voters and run a supplemental levy this year because either a previous levy was expiring or because they are facing the loss of one-time money from the federal stimulus package, which expires this year. Neither is related to the Students Come First laws. For the teachers' union, or anyone else, to make this claim is blatantly untrue."

Luna's three Students Come First laws will appear on the Idaho ballot in an unusual series of voter referenda. A yes vote is a vote to retain the laws, which rewrite the contract negotiation process, establish a merit pay system, and expand the use of technology in the classroom.

There's no debating that Tuesday was a big night for school districts. Whether those local decisions translate to the votes on the Luna laws is an open question.

Here's a link to my Thursday column on Students Come First referenda.

Here, in full, is the IEA's news release:

Voters in 19 communities across Idaho Tuesday approved millions of dollars in levies to support their local school districts. The funds generated by these levies will close gaps in school budgets caused by dramatic cuts in state and federal funding and will pay for everything from school supplies to educator salaries.

“We were thrilled to see voters overwhelmingly demonstrate their support for their local public school system,” said Idaho Education Association president Penni Cyr. “The passage of these education levies showed how much voters value local control and quality public education.”

Though many Idaho communities are still struggling with lingering unemployment and other effects of the national recession, voter approval for school levies was decisive. In the Treasure Valley, levies in Nampa, Homedale, Notus and Wilder passed easily. A $3.19 million levy that will help preserve teacher jobs passed in Kuna. 67 percent of voters in Potlatch gave their levy a landslide victory. Three districts in Kootenai County approved levies, including a 13-year, $32.7 million bond in Coeur d'Alene. Voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.8 million supplemental levy for the American Falls school district and Buhl voters also approved a supplemental levy. The only failure was in Caribou County, where a $5 million bond in the North Gem School District failed by only two votes to get the two-thirds majority required for passage.

“Tuesday’s vote was a resounding thumbs up for public schools and for local control,” said Cyr. “In every part of Idaho, voters clearly reject the top-down approaches promoted by Idaho Superintendent of Public Education Tom Luna and his friends in the Idaho Legislature. Voters see that the teachers and administrators in their district know what works best for their kids—not bureaucrats in the capitol building. They’re willing to put their tax dollars behind that assertion.”

The Idaho Education Association expects voters will continue to support their public schools in November’s election when they go to the polls to reject Propositions 1, 2 and 3, otherwise known as the Luna Laws. “We expect voters will send the same message then as they did Tuesday: voters will support local schools and local control by rejecting the laws and voting no on Props 1, 2 and 3. Idaho kids deserve nothing less.”

And here, in full, is a statement issued by Melissa McGrath, a Luna spokeswoman:

The most recent press release from the IEA is just another way in which they are trying to mislead the public. There is no evidence to back up the statements they make. The fact is that the Students Come First laws do not reduce funding for public schools. State revenues for public schools have increased 4.2 percent, or $54 million, for the current fiscal year. Some school districts chose to go to the voters and run a supplemental levy this year because either a previous levy was expiring or because they are facing the loss of one-time money from the federal stimulus package, which expires this year. Neither is related to the Students Come First laws. For the teachers' union, or anyone else, to make this claim is blatantly untrue.

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1346356854 IEA: School election results bode well for overturning Luna laws (UPDATED, 1:59 p.m.) Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

correct me if I'm wrong

but I don't see anyplace in the IEA statement where they blame Students Come First for the budget cuts.

No correction needed

No you are correct, no where does it blame SCF. Maybe if Melissa spent more time paying attention and less time trying to fluff up her boss's Wikipedia page, she'd know better.