Education Funding

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Gov. Butch Otter says his 2015-16 budget blueprint has money set aside to launch a career ladder program to boost teacher pay.

“It’s within our parameters,” Otter said in a Wednesday interview with Idaho Education News. “I have every confidence that we will get the first year.”

facebook.com/pages/Lapwai-School-District

A school superintendent in northern Idaho says the reason his district hasn't had music classes in more than a year, and will soon switch to virtual gym classes, is as much about the difficulty of attracting and retaining qualified teachers in rural areas as it is about funding.

The story of Lapwai School District's  funding problems has been picked up by just about every news outlet in the state.

School Kid, Education, Computer
Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is proposing a 6.9 percent budget increase to Idaho's public school funding for 2015. Luna says the budget calls for the largest spending increase he's ever proposed in his nearly eight-year tenure.  

Luna unveiled his budget Tuesday to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and legislative leadership. However, because Luna isn't seeking a third-term, it'll be the winner of the November election who will be tasked with selling the $94 million budget increase to lawmakers during the next legislative session.

Idaho Education News

The West Ada School District will run another bond issue in an attempt to ease overcrowding issues.

But first, district officials want to look at the ingredients of a bond proposal — and crunch the precinct-by-precinct numbers from Tuesday’s vote.

“The kids aren’t going away and the need isn’t going to decrease,” West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark said Wednesday.

apple, fruit
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A $104 million bond that would have helped the West Ada School District address overcrowding failed Tuesday. It needed a two-thirds super majority to pass, but failed with 63 percent of the vote.

The Idaho Statesman reports the school's superintendent says overcrowding won't be going away, and the district will need to attempt the bond measure again.

Idaho Department of Commerce

Idaho’s public universities Wednesday told the State Board of Education what programs and degrees they’re ready to cut, which could lead to job layoffs. All four of Idaho’s four-year universities reported on a yearlong evaluation known as program prioritization. This was a requirement from the state board aimed at cost cutting.

Idaho's endowment fund hit a record high of $1.73 billion after earning high returns on its investments over the past year.

Investment manager Larry Johnson told the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday that the fund during the fiscal year that ended June 30 earned its second-highest amount in its history.

This is also the second year in a row the fund hit an all-time high.

That means there will be an increase in how much the fund can distribute to public schools and other endowment beneficiaries.

Classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe has donated $1.2 million to 52 educational programs in Idaho.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports the tribe made the announcement Thursday.

The money is going to support educational efforts ranging from reading, music, arts, science, college scholarship programs and vocational preparation.

The chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Chief Allen, says the money will allow students to focus on learning.

Most of the money was distributed in Kootenai and Benewah counties in northern Idaho.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

School districts across Idaho will be asking voters to approve supplemental levies Tuesday. That includes Meridian, Nampa, and Kuna. Districts going to voters for more money has become commonplace in recent years.

A little more than a decade ago, about a third of Idaho schools had levies in place. Now it’s two thirds, according to Mike Ferguson, head of the non-profit research group Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. In that time, the money coming from levies has tripled to about $190 million. 

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Budget writers at Idaho’s Capital approved a 5.1 percent increase in education spending for next fiscal year. The budget includes a 1 percent boost for teacher pay and an additional $15.8 million dollars for leadership bonuses.

If approved, the budget will bring state spending on schools to $1.374 billion dollars. That’s slightly higher than 2008’s $1.367 billion, but still below the state’s 2009 peak of $1.418 billion.

student, classroom, ipad
FlickingerBrad / Flickr Creative Commons

A report from the New Jersey-based advocacy group the Education Law Center, says Idaho does not do a good job spending its education money fairly for all students.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s education system saw no significant improvement in the past year, at least according to Education Week’s 2014 Quality Counts state report card. The annual report from the education-focused news outlet is frequently cited by all sides during education debates in Idaho.

Some Idaho Board of Education members fear a proposed 5.9 percent funding hike for public schools in 2015 could come at the expense of universities.

On Thursday, board member Bill Goesling of Moscow worried the $77 million increase public schools chief Tom Luna wants for K-12 schools would siphon money from colleges including the University of Idaho, Idaho State University and Boise State University.

BigEdBeckley.net

Idaho schools will get $943,000 from a Texas stuntman, in return, the stuntman has purchased the right to jump the Snake River Canyon.

The bid made by "Big" Ed Beckley in a public auction last week is due to the state of Idaho Friday afternoon. He'll wire the money to the state.

Beckley is a 63-year-old who's been jumping motorcycles since the mid 1970s.  At 285 lbs. he bills himself as the world's largest motorcycle jumper. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s school superintendent Tom Luna released his budget request for next year Tuesday. Luna is asking for a $77.8 million bump in state spending for education. That would be a 5.9 percent increase. That’s how much the Legislature increased education spending in 2007, the year before the financial crisis. Since then, the education budget has seen big cuts, and more recently, modest increases.

jcbwalsh / Flickr

Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia only Utah spends less on education than Idaho. A new report Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau says Idaho spent $6,824 for each student in its public schools in 2011. The National average is $10,560. New York tops the list spending $19,076.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Education Improvement Task Force finished a statewide listening tour Thursday night in Boise. The group was created to recommend ways to improve the state’s schools after voters repealed an education overhaul last November.

Thursday night’s public meeting was well attended compared to some past meetings. About 200 people squeezed into the state capital building’s Lincoln Auditorium and 37 spoke. It lasted more than two and a half hours.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A judge has tossed out part of a case to change education funding in Idaho. The case, known as "Joki vs. the State of Idaho," was filed last fall alleging it was unconstitutional for school districts to charge fees for classes. Wednesday’s hearing was to decide what parts of this case could move forward.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters Tuesday agreed to pay more than $100 million in additional taxes over the next few years when they approved 36 new school district levies. Reliance on supplemental levies to shore up school budgets has increased dramatically since the recession spurred cuts in state funding.  

David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State, says the legislature is increasingly shifting the responsibility to fund education to local homeowners who pay property taxes. He says Tuesday’s levy votes reveal a disconnect between voters and lawmakers.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated 11:30 A.M.: Teachers, administrators and parents in the Nampa School District are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Nearly three quarters of voters said yes to a $4.3 million levy request Tuesday.

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