Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly released the following statement on behalf of IEA’s thousands of educator members in reaction Gov. Brad Little’s State of the State speech earlier today:
Gov. Little has, yet again, demonstrated his commitment to addressing challenging issues facing our public schools and public school educators so that Idaho’s students can thrive. Idaho Education Association members are eager to roll up their sleeves and work with policymakers on building forward momentum in Idaho public education.
In particular, the governor’s proposals around giving school districts more robust financial support from state coffers to improve or replace dilapidated school facilities is very encouraging. For far too long, Idaho policymakers have ignored the daunting backlog of facilities needs leaving too many of Idaho’s students literally out in the cold. Requiring supermajorities of local voters to approve bonds for school construction and forcing school districts to rely on voter-approved levies for basic operational needs creates huge inequities for less-affluent communities that cannot afford to tax themselves.
Idaho voters agree. An October 2023 poll commissioned by IEA members shows that 80% of likely voters say the state should fund facilities needs if local voters refuse to do so. Similarly, 94% agreed that “Idaho students have a right to safe, secure, and modern school facilities.”
Gov. Little’s school facilities funding plan is an important step toward creating equity in Idaho’s public schools. IEA members are eager to work with policymakers to ensure a child’s zip code doesn’t determine whether their classrooms are up-to-date or crumbling, supportive or overcrowded, kept warm or freezing.
Layne McInelly is president of the Idaho Education Association and a professional certified educator who taught in Idaho public schools for 12 years.