{{featured_button_text}}
Republican meet and greet

Republican candidate Rep. Lance Clow mingles during a meet and greet Sept. 29, 2016, at Canyon Crest Dining and Event Center in Twin Falls.

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on Feb. 7BOISE — Lawmakers heard from 20 speakers — and heard some recurring themes — during Thursday’s “listening session” on a proposal to rewrite Idaho’s public school funding formula.

It was the first hearing on the draft funding formula bill, released Jan. 31. More than 120 people — including school superintendents and other administrators, trustees, educators, parents and taxpayers — filled the Statehouse’s largest hearing room for the one-hour, 45-minute hearing.

It’s the first step in what will certainly be a long legislative process.

Even the supporters of the rewrite acknowledge that their bill is not a finished product. Alternating between using football and baseball metaphors, House Education Committee Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, urged his colleagues to stay on their toes. His Senate Education Committee counterpart, Idaho Falls Republican Dean Mortimer, said it would probably be two weeks before a bill comes up for an initial hearing.

What’s at issue

Any proposal would repeal Idaho’s 25-year-old attendance-based funding formula in favor of an enrollment-based model where money would follow the students.

Under the new formula, the state would provide a base level of funding ($4,236 per student in the latest proposal) that would follow students. The proposal takes this base funding level and adds in funding weights to support at-risk students, English language learners, gifted and talented students, special education students and kindergarten- through third-grade and ninth- through 12th-grade students. Finally, the proposal calls for additional funding for small and remote schools, added funding for large schools or districts, and incorporating a wealth adjustment based on property values.

Supporters say the overhaul is necessary to address hallmarks of a 21st Century educational landscape, including online learning, student mobility, dual enrollment, the expansion of classroom technology and the proliferation of charter schools. Skeptics worry that the new formula takes the same amount of funding and divides it up differently, creating winners and losers.

During a briefing with reporters earlier Thursday, Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, said legislators have made progress to reduce the number of districts that would lose funding. Under the latest funding spreadsheet simulations the number of districts that would expect to lose funding would drop from 36 to 17 — provided lawmakers added $90 million to the overall K-12 budget.

The draft bill also outlines a temporary, three-year period where the state would provide funding to ensure districts or charters don’t lose money during a transition. If lawmakers pass a “hold positive” provision, ensuring at least a 2 percent funding increase during the transition, that could cost about $3.2 million a year. If lawmakers simply hold schools “harmless,” heading off funding decreases, the cost could be $1.8 million a year.

Idaho Education News senior reporter Kevin Richert contributed to this report.

0
0
1
0
1

Load comments