Idaho Budget Writers Vote To Boost Education Spending

Mar 4, 2013

The education budget passed the committee with bipartisan support. Republican Senator Sheryl Nuxoll was one of a handful who opposed it.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Budget writers in Idaho’s legislature voted to increase state education spending 2.2 percent next year. That would put general fund education dollars at $1.308 billion.

Here are a few years to compare.

2013 = $1.279 billion

2011 = $1.214 billion (post-recession low)

2009 = $1.418 billion (pre-recession high)

Most of the money for Idaho schools comes from the general fund, but there are other state sources and federal dollars. Altogether Idaho’s 2014 K-12 education budget would be at nearly $1.6 billion. Here are some of the increases for next year.

  • $11.2 million to restore “frozen” parts of the formula for allocating money for teacher salaries. The Idaho Education Association is especially glad about that. Overall IEA President Penni Cyr calls the budget a good but small step toward restoring years of cuts to schools.
  • $1 million to “unfreeze” administrator salaries.
  • $21 million in grants for school districts to use as teacher bonuses They can also use up to 40 percent for professional development.
  • $4.8 million to pay new math and science teachers hired to fulfill increased graduation requirements
  • $3.7 million to help teachers get ready for new common Core requirements
  • $2.9 million to increase the minimum teacher salaries from $30,500 to $31,000
  • $13.4 million for for technology pilot projects and increased wireless access at schools.

State Superintendent Tom Luna says he’s pleased with the budget despite not getting the 3 percent increase he wanted.  “We ended up with a budget that wasn’t everything we had asked for,” Luna says. “But when it comes to those things that happen in the classroom, that have an impact on a highly effective teachers, those were the things we were able to preserve.”

Clarification: We reported that Idaho’s education budget remained flat in 2013. A spokesperson for Idaho’s Department of Education says that's not correct. Relatively flat is more accurate. Inclusive of all state and federal money Idaho’s public school budget increased 0.4 percent from 2012 to 2013, or $5.7 million of the nearly $1.6 billion budget.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio