In his 10th State of the State address, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed a 7.9% increase ($116.6 million) for K-12 public schools, pointing out that he and the legislature had promised during the recession to restore funding that was cut during those dark days.
Otter noted that Idaho now has the financial means to provide funding that can help Idaho deliver a world-class K-12 education, which can begin to address issues such as a troubling underemployment rate, low wages, stagnant high school graduation rates, and too few students pursuing post-secondary education opportunities.
The governor’s recommendation is just the first step in a very long process that will result a FY17 public school budget. However, today’s comments reflect the important work IEA members have done over the past few years to continually and effectively point out the importance of adequately funding our public schools. Throughout the remainder of this session, we’ll need your help to remind lawmakers of how important it is to our students, schools, and communities that we invest in our public schools.
The full budget proposal will be unveiled during a JFAC session tomorrow morning, but among the specifics being reported in the governor’s budget recommendation are:
- $38.9 million to fund the second phase of the Career Ladder salary allocation plan.
- $5 million for professional development and mentoring for teachers.
- $1.8 million to move non-instructional staff (counselors, nurses, etc.) onto the career ladder.
- $5 million in additional funding for college and career counseling. This funds a counseling bill that was passed in the previous session, but not funded.
- $10 million for classroom technology.
- $30 million in operational/discretionary funding. This would bring the state back to 2009 funding levels (not accounting for inflation).
The full text of Governor Otter’s State of the State address is available online at http://dfm.idaho.gov/fy2017/gov2017speech.pdf
Insight and analysis from Idaho Education News can be found at http://www.idahoednews.org/news/otter-calls-for-7-9-percent-increase-in-education-funding/#.VpQgPxUrKhc
Look for additional information and takeaways from the IEA in the coming days through the Hotline as well as through our social media platforms www.facebook.com/idahoea and www.twitter.com/idahoedassoc.
Here is IEA’s official response to the governor’s State of the State address:
We appreciate Governor Otter’s comments regarding the importance of public school funding. As we have said many times in recent years, a strong, well-funded public education system must be a priority for our state. Idaho must make responsible investments in public schools so that our children can thrive in the classroom and become the community and business leaders of the future.
Idaho has the 47th lowest investment per student in the country. One-third of all rural school districts operate on a four-day school week, and our employees are some of the lowest paid in the nation. Studies, surveys and anecdotal evidence continue to show that a lack of support for public education has been a significant factor in Idaho’s inability to provide a fully-trained workforce and attract more businesses.
The number of Idaho classrooms has grown significantly since 2009. Governor Otter’s proposal would provide the same amount of money per classroom that schools were receiving in 2009. However, the cost of living has increased by double digits over the past seven years and the burdens being placed on teachers, schools and local communities has also risen substantially. We must do more to ensure our schools are adequately funded and that we do not lose more teachers to the better-paying states that surround Idaho.
The governor’s recommendation that we return operational funding to 2009 levels opens the conversation about what our schools really need to provide the world-class public schools our children deserve. Over the past seven years, local communities have invested over a billion dollars to keep programs and people in place. Idaho can do even more to fund our public schools, without raising taxes.
The IEA is committed to working with legislators to make sure we can provide quality programs, recruit and retain qualified staff, and ensure our children have the opportunity for a bright, prosperous future.