Members of JFAC met on Friday morning to address three changes to the FY 17 Public Schools budget. The committee approved adding $9.1 million to fund HB 526 the bill to expand reading interventions for students in grades K-3. This legislation addresses one of recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education. Districts will be required to use the funding to provide additional instructional hours for students who score basic or below basic on the fall reading screening assessments.
Superintendent Ybarra had requested $2 million and Governor Otter recommended $10.7 million to fund reading intervention.
Deviating from an earlier assertion that the committee would only consider funding bills that had made it fully through the legislative process, JFAC also provided funding for several pieces of legislation that are still waiting to be approved. They provided $100,000 to fund the ten schools that take advantage of the Idaho Innovation Act, outlined in HB570, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls). The IEA opposes this legislation. You can read more about what this bill does in a previous Hotline message.
JFAC’s third action transferred $600,000 from the public schools budget to the State Board of Education budget to address a change in policy outlined in HB 571. As a part of last year’s career ladder law, the SDE was responsible to ensure that administrators were appropriately using the teacher evaluation system. HB 571 transfers that responsibility to the SBE; consequently, the funding to do that work must also be transferred.
If the three trailer bills created by today’s JFAC decisions are approved, the FY17 public schools budget will represent a 7.4% increase in general fund expenditures for Idaho’s K-12 schools.
House Ed Prints More Bills
Prior to the beginning of the legislative session, House and Senate leaders predicted that the session would end by March 17th. Well, that date has come and gone and if today’s action in several committees is any indication, lawmakers will be here for another week or so. A handful of committees printed new bills today.
Members of the House Education Committee introduced three bills on Friday.
Rural Education Support Center: Superintendent Ybarra successfully shepherded her rural education support center idea into a piece of legislation and House committee members showed their support for the concept by sending it directly to the floor bypassing a full public hearing on the issue. This procedural maneuver breathed new life into the concept. Among other things, Supt. Ybarra’s bill—which would create a pilot project—would provide for the development of an awareness campaign about how the center would work, identify a region of Idaho school districts to pilot the concept, outline the steps a district would need to follow to take part in the center, and establish an advisory cabinet to oversee the center.
Career Counselors: This legislation clears up a glitch in law by clarifying that state funding will be distributed to schools based on enrollment. Under the legislation passed last year, the SDE would have only been able to distribute a portion of the $5 million that JFAC has set aside for schools to use for career counseling. This bill will correct that issue. The committee used the same procedural maneuver as they had used for the previous measure and sent this bill directly to the floor for a vote of the entire House.
Leadership Premiums: The committee introduced a bill that resulted from the report presented last week by the SDE. The report outlined the various ways school districts distributed leadership awards. Lawmakers had many questions and concerns about the report. As a result, the committee agreed to introduce the legislation that will increase the minimum amount a district can distribute for each award from $850 to $900 (though districts will still continue to receive only $850/per FTE). Districts will also be required to give a more detailed report on the leadership activities they are funding. The bill will get a full hearing in the committee in the near future.