Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra won’t comment on a lawsuit the Idaho Freedom Foundation filed this month challenging taxpayer funding of union leaders.
Ybarra’s spokesman, Jeff Church, declined to deliver the first-year superintendent’s take.
“This is a local matter,” Church wrote in an email to IdahoReporter.com. “Given that this is a pending lawsuit, the superintendent will not be providing comment nor inserting any opinion in the matter.”
The Idaho Freedom Foundation, working with Mountain States Legal Foundation, sued the Boise School District and the Boise Education Association for payments the foundation believes unconstitutional.
In its master contract, the negotiated document outline pay, benefits and other workplace conditions, the school district excuses the union president to conduct union business for a year at a time. The association pays the president’s salary, but the district reimburses the association the cost of a first-year teacher.
This year, that’s worth about $36,000 to Boise district taxpayers.
The legal suit also challenges association leave, a contract stipulation giving unionized teachers paid time off to conduct union business or attended organized labor events. The contract grants delegates two days each to attend union conferences, but allows for more if district officials approve.
Boise isn’t the only district giving paid time off for union business. Several Idaho school districts follow the practice, along with many fire and police departments.
Ybarra, in her first term as superintendent, wants Idaho lawmakers to spend big again on public schools. She will ask legislators for a $110 million spending increase on schools in 2016, a year after lawmakers boosted education dollars by more than $101 million.
Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation publishes IdahoReporter.com.