Proposal Leaves Large Gaps in Student Services
The K-12 budget proposal unveiled recently by Superintendent Ybarra is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of Idaho students. Even by middle-of-a-pandemic standards, the lack of commitment to and investment in Idaho’s public schools is deeply troubling. IEA representatives provided input to the State Department of Education prior to the development of this budget, but clearly their experience-driven ideas were not heeded.
With Idaho already dead last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in per-student funding, this proposed budget would stifle any positive momentum in improving both inputs and outcomes for students and professional educators. Specifically, this budget falls short in these areas:
- The overall 1.5% increase does not even keep pace with the cost of living increases.
- It cuts the professional development budget by nearly half at a time when educators are taking on new roles and increased responsibilities.
- Slashing technology in an era with more reliance on virtual learning is shortsighted.
- It does nothing to reduce class sizes in a state that has the sixth-highest average class size.
- It fails to address the crisis in mental and emotional health problems among students.
- Facilities are antiquated and unsafe in many Idaho districts and this budget provides no impetus for updating the crumbling infrastructure of our public schools.
The Superintendent’s budget does address an unfreezing of the Career Ladder, but for veteran educators who have been waiting a decade or more to see a pay raise, reinstating an increase that has already been approved as law rings hollow. Many Idaho educators are now being asked to work in hazardous conditions with safety measures that are inconsistent at best. Combine years of underpaying professional educators with potential health risks and the state’s woeful teacher retention rates could get worse before they get better.
There is still time to do right by Idaho’s students and educators. We hope the legislature and Governor Little will recognize that the superintendent’s proposal is insufficient and make decisions to invest in the Schools Idaho Students Deserve.