Idaho’s Public School Funding Formula Committee held its final meeting today. The committee unanimously approved motions to send the most recent funding formula model to the House and Senate Education Committees of the upcoming legislative session. A subcommittee is currently working on draft legislation that will accompany the funding formula model and assist the germane committees in their work. That draft legislation is expected to be completed by December 17. The legislature will have final say on any changes to how Idaho funds public education.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, opined that the latest model is “a powerful tool that is adaptive and has enough dials available for the germane committees.” Committee co-chair Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, noted the importance of building from the bottom up in developing the proposed new funding formula. He also thanked the education stakeholder groups for their input and indicated “our listening isn’t done yet.”
There were a few interesting pieces of information coming out of the final meeting.
- Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, requested clarification on “annual growth cap” provision of the model. Rather than having fast-growing districts ask for a waiver, he asked that per-pupil growth be factored in prior to the annual growth cap of 7.5% being applied.
- Committee co-chair Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, who is part of the subcommittee developing the draft legislation, indicated the policy which led to the development of the Career Ladder salary allocation plan is expected to remain in place.
- Michael Griffith of Education Commission of the States, who has been the primary developer of the new model, told the committee that the national average for the percentage of education funding devoted to teacher compensation is between 60-65%. Idaho is currently at about 56%, but theoretically that percentage will increase as local districts are given more decision-making power over their budgets.
The Idaho Education Association will continue to work with legislators and other stakeholder groups to ensure that students have the resources they need, and that our teachers and other educators are compensated like the professionals they are.