By Ron VandenBoom
The only piece of legislation to confront the 57th Legislature that could lead to a better funding method for K-12 education passed the Senate 42-6 and the House 91-9.
The bill has now become a joint venture between the Governor's Office and the Office of Public Instruction, said Rep. John Musgrove, D-Havre, who sponsored the original piece of legislation, HB-625.
The bill states that the governor and the superintendent of public instruction will conduct a study of funding for K-12 public schools to determine adequacy and equity in several areas of school financing including how funds are distributed, pupil transportation, staffing levels, and ANB funding.
The governor will prepare a preliminary report by Dec. 31, 2001 and the Education Interim Committee will hold hearings around the state and take public comment on the preliminary report of the governor.
The summary and recommendations from the Interim Committee will be given to the governor who will issue a final report for the 2003 legislature.
Musgrove introduced the bill on the suggestion of the Office of Public Instruction and Rep. Merlin Wolery, R. Rudyard became a cosponsor of the bill.
Musgrove said the bill went through many transformations in its journey through the legislature and he sat on the joint committee that eventually streamlined the bill to exclude items like criterion based testing that had been placed in the bill as an amendment.
Kept in the bill by the joint committee was an study of telecommunications distance learning, but Musgrove said he doesn't have a problem with that.
"This was beyond politics as far as I was concerned," Musgrove said about the bill, adding that it was not a problem for him to think the bill had become that of Gov. Judy Martz.
"I really don't mind," he said. "A person can get a lot done if they don't care who gets the credit."