Idaho’s Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee will meet Monday to work on setting the K-12 public education budget for 2017-18. JFAC has received budget proposals from Governor Otter and Superintendent Ybarra, heard from both the House and Senate Education Committees and done its own research on the best way to allocate resources. Among the key items under consideration for JFAC Monday are:
- Year three of the Career Ladder. There has been nearly unanimous support for following through with the promise made to raise teacher compensation so that Idaho has a better chance at recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. The third year of the Career Ladder is estimated to be about a $62 million investment in teachers and public education.
- Discretionary funding. Idaho is just now getting back to 2009 levels of discretionary (sometimes called operational), but has not factored in inflation over that time. These are funds that are allocated to local districts, which then make decisions on to best utilize them. Tied to the discussion of discretionary funding this year will be…
- Health insurance costs. How JFAC elects to approach the rapid increase in health insurance costs for professional educators will be interesting to watch. There are currently three different proposals that have been floated, but JFAC has the authority to go with a hybrid plan or develop one of their own. Thus far the proposals are:
- Superintendent Ybarra advocates an increase of $16.2 million to discretionary funding that districts can use to partially offset rising health care costs.
- Governor Otter has proposed a $15 million line-item that would specifically target those funds for increased health insurance costs.
- Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls) recently introduced legislation that would create a $20,260 million line-item for health care costs and tie future adjustments to the amounts allocated for state employees.
- Teacher evaluation training. The State Board of Education and the State Department of Education are at odds over who should control training related to Idaho’s teacher evaluations and how much funding should be granted.
- Other pieces of the budget include technology, college and career counseling, literacy programs and more.
JFAC is also operating with one eye on the Funding Formula Committee, which is evaluating how Idaho funds public education, and is expected to report findings and recommendations to the legislature in 2018.
Senate Ed to Discuss Science Standards Monday
Following public testimony Thursday, Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer held the rule concerning Idaho’s science standards. As we shared in Thursday’s Hotline, testimony was heavily in favor of restoring passages about climate change that had been removed by the House Education Committee, but the options for Senate Ed are less-than-ideal.