Today’s announcement from Governor Little that $99 million will be made available to Idaho’s K-12 public schools is welcome and encouraging news. These funds essentially backfill the $98.7 million that was held back in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis and will certainly be put to great use for students and professional educators. Opening our schools safely requires additional personnel and resources, and this restoration of funds will enable school districts to better meet the needs of students.
IEA members have been sharing their experiences and concerns with Governor Little, and it is gratifying to see him take action to address these issues. The mental and emotional health of students, more and better technology, and professional development can all be prioritized as a result of the restoration of funds. Students throughout the state will be the beneficiaries of this investment, which represents a positive step toward building the Schools Idaho Students Deserve.
Since a sizeable portion of the funding holdback was earmarked for educator compensation, these new monies should be directed for that purpose to the greatest extent possible. Idaho’s dedicated educators are currently working in high-risk environments and in many cases are doing double duty teaching students in person and online. They are very deserving of the increased salaries promised to them during the last legislative session as part of efforts to improve Idaho’s educator retention rates.