Idaho’s Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) will hear public testimony tomorrow (Thursday) morning in advance of its budget-setting deliberations. The public is invited to comment between 9:45-11:00 in room C310 of the Capitol. The JFAC meeting will also be available for online viewing.
Senate Education Chairman Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls) took his turn in front of JFAC on Wednesday, taking the opportunity to share the budget priorities of his committee. He highlighted full funding of the second year of the Career Ladder as the top priority, followed closely by returning operational funding to 2009 levels, though those funds would not be indexed for inflation. He also identified the college/career counseling initiative, classroom technology and literacy proficiency as important issues to the members of his committee. Mortimer also drew attention to professional development for teachers, higher education funding and the charter school reserve fund.
House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMourdant (R-Eagle) had taken the podium a day earlier, sharing similar priorities with JFAC. Career Ladder funding, restoring operational funding lost during the recession, and the literacy program were at the top of his list, followed by college/career counseling and classroom technology. Many of the funding priorities identified by the two chairmen are in line with the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Education Excellence, which was made up of a cross-section of education stakeholders, including the Idaho Education Association.
The germane committee chairs’ comments to JFAC echoed many of the priorities the IEA identified last summer. IEA’s top funding priorities include:
- Career Ladder funding. When lawmakers approved HB 296 last year, they set in motion the process to increase teacher salary allocation levels over the next five years. It is imperative that lawmakers fully fund Year 2 of the Career Ladder.
- Operational Funding. For the past several years, lawmakers have worked to bring funding levels back to 2009 levels. Our second funding priority is to ensure that Operational Funding is increased back to at least the 2009 funding levels.
- The Career Ladder law requires that new teachers will receive mentoring during their residency. Leadership Premiums can be used to pay teachers who serve as mentors; however, there is a great deal more required of a strong mentoring program than simply paying the mentor. Districts should be provided with adequate resources to ensure these very newest members to the teaching ranks have the time and support necessary to become full-fledged teaching professionals.
Corder No Longer with State Department of Education
Former Senator Tim Corder, who had been working as a special assistant to Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and has had a visible profile during legislative sessions, has left the State Department of Education.
Ybarra’s office had no comment other than to confirm Corder’s departure. The story was first reported by Melissa Davlin of Idaho Public Television. Idaho Education News added brief comments from Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) in a later version of their story.