A rare joint session of the House and Senate Education Committees took place Thursday with just one item on the agenda—making sure the committee members had the latest information regarding potential changes to Idaho’s public education funding formula. The presentation was made by House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley and Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, along with Michael Griffith and Emily Parker from ECS (Education Commission of the States). They walked the education committees through the most recent spreadsheet model, plugging in hypothetical values for various weights and assumptions.
Bedke was fairly outspoken about the need for a new formula and admitted that he is “irritated that people want to throw away or criticize the new model before discussing it”. Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, who served on the Funding Formula Committee, stressed that “the committee deliberately tried not to make policy decisions,” leaving those up to the germane committees. Or, as Bedke put it, “this is us saying to you—tag, you’re it.”
While open to new and innovative methods for better funding Idaho schools, the IEA has some concerns with the proposed funding formula. “It has been positioned as a zero-sum game which would create winners and losers among districts,” says IEA President Kari Overall. “But that is not necessarily true. The legislature could decide to make the necessary investment in public education so that all boats rise with the tide.”
Additionally, the progress made through the Career Ladder salary allocation plan could be undone if educator compensation is folded into the new funding formula. “Without the structure of the Career Ladder or some other mechanism, we are concerned that allocations intended to increase pay for educators may not ultimately make it into the hands of our hard-working and dedicated teachers,” Overall says.
Click here to see the Funding Formula Committee’s final report and the spreadsheet with the current draft version of the proposed funding model.
IEA Presents to Senate Ed, House Ed Next on Jan. 25
IEA President Kari Overall joined leaders of other education stakeholder groups in presenting to the Senate Education Committee this week. Each group was given approximately five minutes to outline their priorities and aspirations for the legislative session and there was quite a bit of consensus on the key issues needing to be addressed.
- It is imperative that Idaho address issues related to the recruitment, and especially retention, of professional educators. Overall encouraged committee members to review the most recent teacher pipeline report
- The state has made progress as a result of the original K-12 public education task force, and there is optimism surround the “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force proposed by Gov. Little that would outline a plan for the next five years.
- Protecting public school funding from efforts to divert money to private and parochial schools. Despite a strong cross-section of education stakeholders that opposed a private school voucher bill last year, there is an expectation that at least one similar bill will be presented during this session.
- As Idaho enjoys unprecedented population growth, local districts need help in finding ways for facilities and staff to keep pace.
Overall also asked the committee to make all their decisions through the lens of “creating equal opportunity and access regardless of poverty, geography, ethnicity, disability, or access to technology”.
The IEA has also been invited to speak at the House Education Committee next Friday, January 25. Overall will once again share the Association’s vision for supporting teachers, students, and public education in the state. Idaho’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, longtime IEA member Marc Beitia, will also be recognized at this meeting, which can be streamed via Idaho in Session.
IEA President Quoted in Story About Teacher Compensation
Reporter Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News has a story out about the impact of the Career Ladder and what happens next regarding educator salaries in Idaho. He reached out to the IEA for this piece and included quotes from IEA President Kari Overall.
Enrollment Increase Leads to Revised Budget Request
As is typical in most years, Idaho’s enrollment projections have come in well above estimates, leading to an increase in the support unit figures used for funding public education. The office of Gov. Brad Little has responded by revising his budget request by more than $3.5 million. Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press reported on the changes this week.
Looking Ahead: Ybarra Budget Presentation to JFAC
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra will present her budget proposal to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee January 24 as part of JFAC’s education week. Representatives from Idaho’s higher education institutions will also present that week, but the highlight will be Ybarra’s K-12 proposal. She submitted a tentative request in September that featured a 6.8% increase in education spending, including full funding of the fifth and final year of the Career Ladder salary allocation plan for educator compensation. Gov. Brad Little unveiled his education budget proposal in conjunction with his State of the State address. JFAC will use both budget requests as a guide but will make their own determination of the education budget for the next fiscal year. Idaho In Session will provide streaming coverage of Ybarra’s presentation.
Make sure you get all the latest news on legislative and policy developments from the session by subscribing to the Hotline, which is e-mailed every Friday and as developments warrant during the legislative session.