IEA Hotline—January 24, 2020
Superintendent Ybarra Presents Budget Proposal to JFAC
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra formally proposed a 5.3% increase in K-12 public school funding for the 2020-2021 school year during her presentation to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) Thursday morning. That percentage represents roughly $101 million in new funding as part of an overall public school budget request of almost $2 billion.
Ybarra requested $40 million in new funding to increase veteran teacher pay and improve Idaho’s troubling teacher retention rates. That is $10 million more than Gov. Brad Little has requested, but Ybarra noted that either scenario will only make “incremental progress” toward making Idaho competitive with surrounding states on teacher compensation. Gov. Little’s K-12 task force, with representation from the IEA, Supt. Ybarra, the governor’s office, and others made increasing pay for veteran teachers one of its five primary recommendations.
“This investment would represent an important down payment on Idaho’s plan to attract and retain professional educators,” said IEA President Layne McInelly in response to the superintendent’s budget proposal. “Moving toward the original K-12 task force recommendation of a third tier of the Career Ladder starting at $60,000 per year is a positive step.”
The task force recommendations were evident in some of Ybarra’s other specific requests as well. She asked for $1 million to provide resources and training to better address students’ mental and emotional health. Ybarra also requested $3.1 million in new funding that would make the current $26 million in literacy funds an ongoing appropriation.
“It is important that we take a holistic approach to our investment in public education, making sure our students have access to counselors, nurses, psychologists, and other critical school personnel,” said McInelly. “Making sure students have the support and resources they need is a crucial component in their growth and achievement.”
Supt. Ybarra’s budget presentation is the latest step in the budgeting process for Idaho public schools. JFAC will use the requests from the superintendent and the governor as a starting point but will set the budget as they see fit. Already some committee members are balking at the investment in Idaho’s students and professional educators, despite the state’s thriving economy. To let them know you support properly funding the public schools Idaho students deserve, contact JFAC members by email or phone.
“I Was One of the Lucky Ones”–Teacher of the Year Addresses Education Committees
2020 Idaho Teacher of the Year and IEA member Stacie Lawler shared her powerful, personal story with both education committees this week. Lawler, a health and physical education teacher at Timberlake Junior High School in the Lakeland School District, told the committees how both of her children had struggled with mental and emotional health issues and how the experience prompted her to become a champion for awareness around a sometimes difficult-to-discuss topic. We chronicled Stacie’s experiences in the IEA REPORTER shortly after she was named Teacher of the Year.
Lawler is using her platform as Teacher of the Year to join education stakeholders, including the IEA, in supporting the K-12 task force recommendation around providing more resources and awareness to help students and educators address mental and emotional health. “What if all Idaho children had access to the same resources I had when helping my kids through those difficult times,” she asked the education committees.
Hear more about Lawler’s passion for this issue and how she hopes to raise awareness in our IEA REPORTER Podcast.
Testimony Concludes on Idaho Content Standards, Emails Still Being Accepted
In-person testimony on the Idaho Content Standards wrapped up in the House Education Committee this week, with a public hearing on the science standards. An overflow crowd heard several IEA members and other education professionals expressing their support of the standards, which had just been adopted two years ago after a series of contentious hearings in both chambers of the legislature.
Dr. Melyssa Ferro of Caldwell and Chris Taylor of Boise, both IEA members who were part of the team that developed the science standards, were among those who urged the committee to retain the standards in their current form. Taylor stressed that the standards are just a framework, with plenty of flexibility in curriculum and methodology. Ferro added that she views the standards as an “equity platform”, allowing students around the state an opportunity to become science-literate regardless of their school district or family situation.
The House Education Committee is expected to take up the Idaho Content Standards next week, with a vote possibly coming Thursday or Friday.
There is still time to submit comments about the standards via email or phone. The email addresses of committee members are listed below. Copy as a group and paste inside of your email.