Idaho schools chief unveils budget proposal

Idaho schools chief unveils budget proposal
Posted at 10:54 AM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 12:54:09-04

Idaho's public schools chief is seeking a 6.8 percent increase in education spending for 2018.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra released her plan Friday. If approved by lawmakers in January, Idaho's public school funding would bump up nearly $114 million more than what lawmakers allocated this year.

An ongoing key feature of Ybarra's budget is more teacher salary funding, which is part of a five-year plan to boost school employee pay. Ybarra wants $46.6 million for teacher salaries, which would boost pay for new teachers to $35,800 a year.

For operational funds, Ybarra requested roughly $27,600 per classroom to be used at their own discretion.

“We’ve set a high bar for our schools to ensure students reach high levels of achievement and for our students to go on to higher education after school," Ybarra said. "We heard from stakeholders we need to align our resources to ensure student and school success as educators work hard to reach these long-term goals for Idaho.”

Some of the key investments in Ybarra’s budget blueprint for public schools include:

• $46.6 million for the Career Ladder, Idaho’s funding for teacher salaries, PERSI increase and a minimum salary of $35,800;
• $19 million for district discretionary costs including a 4.18% increase in funds earmarked for health insurance and 3% increase in operational costs
• $8 million for Advanced Opportunities, which provides secondary students $4,125 to take college credit classes and other advanced work;
• $8.6 million to support classroom technology, wireless infrastructure, student information management system;
• $2 million for College and Career Advising and Mentoring;
• $1.4 million for expansion of the state’s mastery based education initiative; and
• $1.3 million for the state’s new science assessment.

Ybarra also filed the budget request for the State Department of Education, the agency she heads that is charged with supporting public schools. The request includes $300,000 for her proposed Rural Education Support Networks.

“As we discuss the needs of our rural districts and students support continues to grow for this initiative,” Superintendent Ybarra said. “Our business and industry leaders are worried that without addressing rural needs we will create a two-class system of schools.”    

The proposal now goes before Governor "Butch" Otter, legislative leadership and other stakeholders for review.

Otter will also submit his own education budget for legislative consideration.

(Associated Press contributed to this report)