By Cameron Rasmusson
Legislators introduced a long-expected bill changing the way Idaho funds its public schools on Wednesday.
IdahoEdNews.org reports that while the legislation is finally here, with the Senate State Affairs Committee voting to introduce it, the bill now faces a race against time to be approved before the Idaho Legislature adjourns.
The bill is designed to update Idaho’s school funding formula, previously based on a law unchanged for 25 years. The bill would shift funding from a model focused on class attendance to one more focused on total enrollment, better accounting for students who change school, attend classes remotely or otherwise maintain an unusual educational schedule.
Fine-tuning the bill remains a major priority for lawmakers and stakeholders alike. The bill introduced Wednesday replaces an earlier draft printed on Monday by Senate State Affairs. This new version focuses on clarifying previous language. It specifies, for instance, that schools aren’t required to follow a teacher salary schedule envisioned as a five-year plan to boost teacher salaries and instead implement their own pay schedule.
It wasn’t the only movement on education-related matters in the Legislature. The Idaho Press reports that seven K-12 funding bills cleared the Senate with no opposition. The bills offer a 6.1-increase in state support for public schools, clearing $2.26 billion in school funding. Of that amount, $1.89 billion is cleared for general fund support.
The Idaho Press reports that despite little debate on the bills in the House or Senate, Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, is among several House Republicans opposed to at least one of the bills.
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