|A joint session of the Senate and House Education committees conducted a “listening session” on a new formula for distributing the education budget among all K-12 schools in Idaho. Here are some of the key take-aways:
There was another listening session, an impromptu conversation I had with a young man at a social function. He lives in rural Idaho. His wife is a certified teacher. Their young child was sick one morning and there were no substitute teachers available (the pay is $50/day). Her class would have to be combined with another class of a different grade level. In addition, several teachers at this school do not have teaching degrees. She had to arrange for a relative to be with her sick child so she could be at school for her students.
- There was clear support for changing the formula from Average Daily Attendance (ADA) to Enrollment. This essentially allows money to move with the student.
- Several concerns were raised by most of the organizations that testified, including: the Department of Education, Idaho Rural School Association, Idaho Association of School Administrators, Idaho Education Association, Idaho School Board Association, Idaho Business for Education, and several school districts (Boise, West Ada, Bliss, Melba, Nampa, Blaine).
- Two charter school organizations expressed strong support for the new formula.
- The funding formula does not include committing a specific amount of money for K-12 education. Click here to download the latest version of the proposed funding formula.
- It is not yet clear what will happen to the teacher salary career ladder.
- Many stakeholders were disappointed to not have been included in the writing of the draft legislation. Click here to see the latest version of the draft legislation (which will likely be revised).
Adopting a funding formula that changes how insufficient funds are distributed creates a false sense of accomplishment. However, the funding formula is still a work-in-progress and the 2020 education budget has not yet been set, so things can change. I will continue to focus on decisions that address the real issue: ensuring that all Idaho students receive an adequately funded education.