At this time of year many state legislatures are proposing or revamping school funding formulas anywhere from distributing money per teacher (instead of per student) to creating daily fines for legislatures that do not come up with a new formula. Idaho is no different.
Funding formulas are complex, especially Idaho’s. Based on average daily attendance, district support units, staff allowances, and differences in the education and experience indices, these calculations have been in place since 1994 and seem questionably relevant to current offerings and practices in Idaho’s public schools.
The 2016 legislature created a Public School Funding Formula Committee (PSFFC) which held hearings last year though did not divulge any feedback to this year’s session. Their charge was “to undertake and complete a study of the public school funding formula and to make recommendations.”
The current legislature has now approved an interim committee of these same PSFFC members to meet after this session and before the 2018 legislative session. Because funding demands such as dual credit and AP courses, technology, and virtual charters, many legislators feel the old formula needs to be revised. Since more and more students move from alternative and virtual schools throughout the year, it is difficult for the money to follow each one as it did in the past.
As with many states, Idaho’s school funding allocation is the largest of state budgets, over 60 percent. The 2017 legislative Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has granted $400,000 for this year’s interim committee to continue its study but also to employ a financial consultant as well as computer programs that would simulate the impact of changes to funding. The committee would then report their recommendations to the 2018 legislature.
“2017 Public School Funding Formula Committee.” House Concurrent Resolution No. 12. Legislature of the State of Idaho. https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2017/legislation/HCR012.pdf.
Burnette, Daarel. “States Wrangle Over K-12 Funding Formulas.” Education Week. 6 March 2017. http://www.edweek.org.
Idaho EdNews Staff. “Late-Session Budgets Take Shape.” Idaho Education News. 16 March 2017. https://www.idahoednews.org.
“Overview of State Funding for Public Education in Idaho.” Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho. http://www.rociidaho.org/. Accessed 24 March 2017.
Richert, Kevin. “Analysis: Rewriting the Funding Formula Will Take Time and Money.” Idaho Education News. 4 Feb 2016. https://www.idahoednews.org.