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Critchfield Works with Budget Writers to Secure Held Up Funding from 2022’s Special Session

March 8, 2024

Idaho school district ledgers are missing approximately $160 million thanks to the state’s return average daily attendance as the metric allocating funding and controversial changes to how legislative budget writers operate.

During a 2022 special legislative session, lawmakers approved $380 million in new investments for K-12 education. However, the policy mechanisms typically tied to funding appropriations were short-circuited by 2023’s shift back to average daily attendance, leaving school districts without a significant portion allocated by lawmakers.

As a result, Idaho Superintendent for Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield is working with legislative budget writers, who have adopted a new controversial appropriation process, to create new mechanisms that will allow that money to flow to schools.

“The legislature is legally bound to make this funding available to school districts,” said Matt Compton, IEA’s associated executive director. “But this year’s new budget-writing process is making that work very difficult. IEA members greatly appreciated Superintendent Critchfield’s work to make it happen.”

The Idaho Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) heard a presentation on the topic from the Idaho Department of Education and Critchfield earlier this week.

Critchfield called the situation “unfinished business” in a Department of Education press release and she called on JFAC to release the money from 2022’s House Bill 1.

“The legislature appropriated $380 million that schools were not able to completely access, so we’re seeking this money as a one-time supplemental, along with an ongoing fix so that we’re not in the same position again next year,” Critchfield said. “I’d like to reiterate something that I have said throughout this process: dollars that were appropriated for public schools should be accessible and usable by our public schools.”

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