February 12, 2021
Bill to Limit Bond and Levy Elections Moves Out of Committee
Legislation that would limit when school districts could run critical bonds and levies has passed the House State Affairs Committee with all but one Republican voting in favor. Education stakeholder groups and officials from multiple school districts testified against HB 106, contending that removing two of the four election dates would make it more difficult to pass ballot measures that are needed for student services, educator compensation, facility improvements, and other essentials.
So-called supplemental levies are vital in Idaho, which ranks last among the 50 states in per-student funding from the state. For five consecutive years, the state’s tally on local levies has set new records. In the current school year, 92 of 115 school districts rely on levies totaling more than $216 million.
Contact your representative today and let them know you oppose HB 106.
Senate Ed Passes Bill to Make Advanced Opportunities Funds Available for Private School Students
In a 6-3 vote, the Senate Education Committee advanced SB 1045, which would allow private school students access to state funds for dual credits classes at state public universities and colleges through the State’s Advanced Opportunities program. In order to skirt constitutional restrictions on public money going to private schools, the bill would set up reimbursements directly to students. The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Education Funding Still in Flux
There is growing concern about available resources not making their way to those that need them—school districts, students, and educators. The state has yet to distribute most of the emergency federal funds that are designed to give schools the resources they need to navigate the public health crisis and open school buildings safely. As you can see in this dashboard, just 40.7% of Education Stabilization Funds and only 14.6% of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds have been distributed to districts. Why is the State Department of Education holding on to these much-needed funds instead of allocating them to districts?
Additionally, legislators have yet to determine how they will utilize the state’s $600 million budget surplus. This should be a fairly simple exercise since Idaho is 51st in per-student funding. However, we have yet to see a proposal from any legislator that addresses Idaho’s drastically and chronically low public education funding or the problematic inequity in education services that plagues our state.
Stay tuned for more information and developments on education funding. The bottom line is that there is a lot of money sitting in Boise that could (and should) be put to good use in Idaho school buildings.
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