State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra presented her budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) Thursday morning. Ybarra requested a 6.8% increase in general fund monies in fiscal year 2019, which translates to more than $113 million in new funding for Idaho’s rapidly growing public school system. In total, the proposed education budget is almost $1.8 billion.
Ybarra prioritized funding the fourth year of Idaho’s Career Ladder salary allocation plan to improve salaries for teachers. She requested an additional $46.4 million for the Career Ladder in FY2019, saying that the state should continue to “invest in our human capital”. Other specifics from her budget request included:
- An increase of $19 million in discretionary funding, including $7.2 million targeted to help offset rising health insurance costs. (It is worth noting that the budget proposal put forth by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter does not include any increase in discretionary funding).
- $8 million more for advanced opportunities, primarily for high school students to take dual credit classes that get them started early on earning college credits. She also requested an increase of $2 million for college and career counselors.
- An additional $8.6 million for classroom technology
- An expansion of the state’s fledgling mastery-based education program, with an increase of $1.4 million.
- A $1 million increase in funding to help Idaho’s English Language Learners, now numbering about 16,000 students.
Action Still Needed—IEA Urges Forward-Looking Approach
The Idaho Education Association is in agreement with Superintendent Ybarra’s assessment that the state is “on the right track”. We also recognize that there is much work yet to be done. We have questions about the budget proposals from Ybarra and Otter.:
- Sufficient general fund resources, and the flexibility for local school districts to allocate them, are critical for Idaho’s public schools. Governor Otter’s proposal does not include any increase to discretionary funding The IEA believes this is oversight needs to be addressed.
- The IEA is still waiting on a plan of action that addresses the teacher recruitment and retention issues raised in two recent reports about Idaho’s teaching landscape. Both the State Board’s Teacher Pipeline Workgroup and the State Department of Education’s Idaho’s Educator Landscape report highlight deficiencies and obstacles we face in providing quality teachers for all Idaho students. However, neither agency has yet to propose any legislation or unveiled any plan to address these issues.
- We are now in the fourth year of a five-year plan for improving education. This plan has shown considerable progress for our public education system, but no plans have been laid out beyond that five-year horizon. The IEA urges a reconvening of the Governor’s Task Force, or some alternative, collaborative group, to develop the next steps forward once the current plan has run its course.
Science Standards to Be Discussed in Joint Session Thursday
Idaho’s House Education Committee will hold a special session Thursday, February 1 at 8:00 a.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium. The committee will discuss and hear testimony on the state’s revised science standards. You can listen to the committee meeting here. Idaho Education News has a preview story on Thursday’s hearing. Stay tuned for updates on this hearing in special editions of the Hotline and/or on the IEA’s Facebook page.