A panel of Idaho lawmakers and education officials is looking into streamlining the the state’s public school budget, getting rid of line items such as the teacher career ladder, and giving school districts and charter schools money based on the number of students enrolled, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert. It’s part of an intensive effort, now in its third year, to revamp Idaho’s complicated school funding formula, which hasn’t been updated since 1994.
At a 4-½ hour meeting today, the 12-member panel, which includes 10 lawmakers plus state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and state Board of Education President Linda Clark, heard from the Education Commission of the States about the results of surveys and focus groups, and discussed an array of concerns, from how the current career ladder appears to be helping with recruiting new teachers but not with retaining experienced ones, to how Idaho’s school funding formula should address programs for advanced opportunities, charter schools and more.
Clark praised lawmakers for putting money into the career ladder, a plan that will boost beginning teacher pay by 29 percent. But the former West Ada school superintendent said the state still faces an ongoing issue, Richert reports: It is challenging to retain veteran teachers, even in the Treasure Valley, as many teachers move from rural and suburban districts for the “golden ticket” of a job in Boise.
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, blamed the structure of the career ladder. The retired teacher reminded lawmakers that they eschewed a key recommendation from Gov. Butch Otter’s K-12 task force: Boosting high-end teacher salaries to $60,000.
And while the committee agreed to look at a post-career ladder funding formula, Sen. Chuck Winder said the plan has built some good will between teachers and legislators. “I don’t want to see us lose all that good will,” said Winder, R-Boise, the committee’s Senate co-chair. Richert reports that no decisions have been made; the committee will continue meeting into the fall, and plans to have recommendations for the 2019 Legislature. It meets again Sept. 5.