The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) is expected to begin the Fy 17 budget writing process for public schools on Monday, but it looks like they will do so without all of the education bills having been passed by the legislature. According to JFAC member Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls), JFAC will likely plan on using “trailer” bills tied to important items like early literacy and leadership premiums.
By moving forward on budget writing next week, JFAC will be setting an education funding number well below the 7.5% increase proposed by Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and the 7.9% increase proposed by the governor’s office. Horman acknowledged to Idaho Education News that she has concerns about the perception that will arise, saying “I don’t want educators to think the commitment isn’t there, because I believe it is.”
Despite that statement, the IEA and other education stakeholder groups have serious concerns about the decision to move forward prematurely. For starters, “What’s the rush?” There doesn’t seem to be a viable reason to set the education budget before all of the pertinent legislation is in place.
JFAC co-chair Sean Keough (R-Sandpoint) told the Spokesman Review that they try to avoid “getting out in front of the policy committees.” However, it looks like JFAC is doing exactly that. Putting the cart before the horse sends a bad message to the citizens of Idaho, and it reflects poorly on a legislature that has claimed that education funding is its top priority. Please tell the members of JFAC not to rush this process. Let’s take it step by step and get it right.
Another District Superintendent Takes Issue with “Don’t Fail Idaho”
Kuna School District Superintendent Wendy Johnson joined the growing number of voices expressing displeasure and disappointment with the “Don’t Fail Idaho” campaign and the Albertson Foundation. Like her “big city” colleague, Dr. Don Coberly, Johnson sent a letter to the teachers and staff of the primarily rural district thanking them for the excellent work they do for students and voicing frustration with the negativity of the campaign. “Like many of you, my blood boils every time I hear the Don’t Fail Idaho rhetoric,” she says.