Once again, the U.S. Census Bureau has ranked Idaho next to last in per-pupil spending.
State superintendent Tom Luna
And reacting to this familiar news, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna made a familiar argument to explain the numbers.
One factor working against Idaho is family size, Luna said Tuesday. Because Idaho’s families are larger, school children make up a higher percentage of the population. So, relatively speaking, Idaho taxpayers have to shoulder a heavier burden to bankroll education.
Luna has made this point before. But does it hold up?
To an extent, it does.
The latest Census Bureau report contains a wealth of data, including a breakdown of state populations and school enrollments.
In 2011, elementary and secondary school students made up 16.8 percent of Idaho’s population, above the national average of 15.5 percent.
The family-size argument is even stronger when it comes to Utah — the one and only state Idaho consistently outspends. School children made up 19.4 percent of Utah’s population.
Looking at the top and bottom five in per-pupil spending, though, the percentages are definitely a mixed bag.
- New York. Population: 19,502,000. Enrollment: 2,677,412. Student percentage: 13.7.
- District of Columbia. Population: 619,000. Enrollment: 44,199. Student percentage: 7.1.
- Alaska. Population: 724,000. Enrollment: 131,704. Student percentage: 18.1.
- New Jersey. Population: 8,835,000. Enrollment: 1,399,409. Student percentage: 15.8 percent.
- Vermont. Population: 627,000. Enrollment: 86,982. Student percentage: 13.9.
- Mississippi. Population: 2,977,000. Enrollment: 490,526. Student percentage: 16.5.
- Arizona. Population: 6,467,000. Enrollment: 946,571. Student percentage: 14.6.
- Oklahoma. Population: 3,784,000. Enrollment: 658,163. Student percentage: 17.4.
- Idaho. Population: 1,584,000. Enrollment: 265,713. Student percentage: 16.8.
- Utah. Population: 2,814,000. Enrollment: 545,395. Student percentage: 19.4.
Politics is a “full-contact sport,” Republican state Sen. Bob Nonini told his hometown Coeur d’Alene Press this week.
Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene
And at least he’s consistent in applying this principle.
Last spring, when Nonini was seeking to move from the House to the Senate, his political action committee poured nearly $15,000 into campaigns targeting six GOP incumbents, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron of Rupert and Vice Chairwoman Shawn Keough of Sandpoint.
All six candidates won.
If Nonini was chastened by the experience — or by the awkwardness of serving alongside fellow Republicans he targeted for defeat a few months earlier — there’s no visible sign of it.
Nonini signed a May 17 letter endorsing two candidates for Post Falls School Board. The letter criticized board incumbent Julie Hunt and Dave Paul, who was seeking a return to the board. The letter endorsed Carol Goodman and Glorie Ward, candidates who had the backing of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans.
The Reagan Republicans also supported three candidates in Coeur d’Alene School Board elections which took on partisan overtones.
Nonini was the only lawmaker to sign the letter supporting Goodman and Ward — and had he known it would end up that way, Nonini might have had second thoughts about weighing in. But he didn’t back down.
“I appreciate Carol and Glorie asking me to sign a letter of endorsement,” Nonini told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I support what they do.”
But here’s one difference between this week’s Post Falls race and Nonini’s foray into the 2012 GOP primary. This time, Nonini’s candidates won.
A razor-thin Middleton School Board election is headed for a rematch.
The reason: The Canyon County clerk’s office gave the wrong ballots to some voters in two precincts. As a result, voters were incorrectly assigned to the Middleton School District’s Zone 2.
The Zone 2 election ended in a tie, with incumbent Steve Cluff and Marc Gunning each collecting 101 votes. A third candidate, Brian Fendley, trailed with 18 votes.
But Tuesday’s results may be strictly academic, since 23 voters shouldn’t have voted in the first place.
That error rate is high enough that the election will have to be held again, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported Thursday. The Canyon County clerk’s office is waiting on direction from the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections statewide.
Idaho’s largest school district — and one of its fastest growing districts — hasn’t sought a building bond issue in nearly a decade.
That may change in 2014.
Linda Clark, Meridian superintendent
The Meridian School District will likely go to voters with a bond issue next spring, Superintendent Linda Clark said in an interview Wednesday.
At the very least, the bond issue would seek another middle school, where the district’s overcrowding issues are most acute. For example, the district’s Lake Hazel Middle School was built to a capacity of 1,000; its enrollment should reach 1,400 for 2013-14, spokesman Eric Exline said.
The district might also seek bond money for an ongoing, six-year renovation project at Meridian High School, Clark said. The district is using plant facilities levy money to cover this project.
The bond issue might also address crowding issues in the elementary schools, Clark said.
Before the economic downturn, the Meridian district ran bond issues every other year, in an attempt to keep pace with the area’s breakneck suburban growth. But the district’s last bond issue, totaling $139 million, passed in 2005.
The district’s 2012-13 fall enrollment was 37,312 — up more than 30 percent from the 2004-05 figure of 28,655.
The state’s land grant endowments are looking up — by 14 percent over a year ago — and have reached a record $1.46 billion.
The increases, the result both of robust investment returns and rising revenues from state endowment lands, should result in more money for public schools and other endowment beneficiaries.
“Distributions to these beneficiaries will total $47.5 million this fiscal year and will rise at least 2.8 percent to $48.8 million in Fiscal Year 2014,” the state Department of Lands said in a news release Tuesday.
It stands to reason that public schools will receive the bulk of this increase in payments, since K-12 is by far the largest endowment beneficiary. In past years, public schools have received at least two thirds of state endowment payments.
Here, in full, is the Department of Lands news release:
“At $1.46 billion, the balance of Idaho land grant endowment fund assets is at an all-time high, up 14 percent from the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
“The fund assets come from more than 120 years of managing millions of acres of state endowment trust lands and the revenue they generate to support public schools and other Idaho institutions.
“The Endowment Fund Investment Board (EFIB) presented the numbers — which reflect the status of the fund for the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2013 compared to the end of Fiscal Year 2012 — during its semiannual report to the State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) this morning. The EFIB is the nine-member board and staff that provide professional investment management services to the Land Board, among other stakeholders.
“The record level of fund assets is due to stronger investment returns and 14 percent higher revenue from endowment trust lands for the nine months ending in March.
“The endowment fund had an investment return of 6.7 percent over the past five years and, as a result of rising equity markets, a 14.5 percent return in the first nine months of FY13.
“Endowment trust lands, which are managed by the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) under the direction of the Land Board, are tied to specific funds and beneficiaries. There are nine state endowment funds, the largest of which supports Idaho’s public school system. Beneficiaries of the other funds include the University of Idaho, state hospitals for the mentally ill, Lewis-Clark State College, state veterans homes, Idaho State University, the Capitol Commission, Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, and Idaho’s juvenile corrections system and prison system.
“The Idaho Constitution stipulates the lands are to be managed to produce maximum long-term financial returns to the beneficiaries. Distributions to these beneficiaries will total $47.5 million this fiscal year and will rise at least 2.8 percent to $48.8 million in Fiscal Year 2014.
“In a nutshell, each endowment is overseen by the Land Board and has both permanent assets — which can never be spent — and a reserve fund of accumulated earnings that acts as a buffer. The permanent assets include 2.4 million acres of endowment trust land and money in a Permanent Fund. Investment earnings from the Permanent Fund as well as ongoing land revenues, such as the money from timber sales or cash returns on a commercial building lease, go to the Earnings Reserve fund. The Land Board annually determines the allocation of the reserve account — how much to distribute to the beneficiaries, how much to transfer to the permanent fund to offset inflation, and how much to retain for future distribution.”
And here’s more from the Land Board meeting, from Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
The Boise School District has announced another change in its principals’ ranks for 2013-14.
Rick Bollman will move to the principal’s job at Maple Grove Elementary School.
A 33-year veteran of the Boise district, Bollman has been principal at Cynthia Mann Elementary School since 2005, and was principal at Liberty Elementary School from 2000 to 2005.
Bollman will succeed Mark Jones, who is moving to the principal’s post at Adams Elementary School.
All told, nine Boise schools will have new principals in the fall. Here’s the list.
Adams elementary: Jones.
Longfellow Elementary School: Bryce England.
Lowell Elementary School: Nick Smith.
Maple Grove elementary: Bollman.
Morley Nelson Elementary School. Paula Bell.
Riverside Elementary School: Erin Kubena.
Shadow Hills Elementary School: Jeff Roberts.
East Junior High School: David Greene.
Riverglen Junior High School: Sandy Winters.
Background: For more about Boise’s previous principals’ announcements, click here and here.
Indiana has put Common Core on hold for a year.
And what happens there next is, well, anybody’s guess.
Here’s an excerpt of an article from StateImpact Indiana:
“According to the bill Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week, the State Board of Education can take no further action to implement the Common Core State Standards. Yet the legislation also leaves any standards adopted before May 15, 2013 in place.
“Proponents of the new standards argue pausing implementation of the Common Core will leave teachers unsure what to teach next year. But the bill’s statehouse advocate disagrees.
“’I don’t know how stopping and taking another look at this in any way is worse than moving forward with something we think is bad,’ says Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis.”
Indiana’s legislative limbo should sound familiar to anybody who watched the 2013 Idaho Legislature. In the wake of the repeal of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, lawmakers spent considerable time figuring out what to do next.
They figured out how to give schools $30.6 million in 2012-13 funding that had been earmarked for the laws (and that was after the state distributed $38 million in teacher bonuses, which had been promised before voters rejected the Proposition 2 pay-for-performance law). Lawmakers also reinstated bits and pieces of all three laws — including, but not only, the Proposition 1 collective bargaining law.
Now, consider the timing surrounding the Idaho Core Standards, Idaho’s version of Common Core.
Idaho school are training and writing curriculum to align with the math and English language arts standards. The state has upwards of $20 million to spend in 2013-14 for Common Core professional development, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said at Friday’s education reform task force meeting. The standards will go into effect in the fall — more than four months before the start of the 2014 legislative session.
Forget about a special session to repeal the Idaho Core Standards. Only Gov. Butch Otter can call a special session, and he supports the standards. So legislative critics wouldn’t get a shot at a Common Core repeal before January 2014, well in the middle of the first year of statewide implementation.
Perhaps there will be a push to repeal or delay the Idaho Core Standards in 2014, three years after the Senate and House education committees approved the standards in the first place. But if Indiana is any guide, a repeal or delay in Idaho would make for a messy, murky situation.
(UPDATED, 9:34 a.m., with details on McGourty’s decision to stay in School Board race.)
Two days after Thomas Michaelson abruptly resigned as Nampa school superintendent, the seven candidates for three school board seats differed sharply about the shakeup.
Brian McGourty questioned the timing of Michaelson’s departure, as did Mike Fuller. Kim Rost said the decision not to renew Michaelson’s contract appeared a kneejerk move. Clayton Trehal said the move should have been made sooner. Incumbent Bob Otten stood by the move.
It goes without saying — in a district that is wrestling with a $5.1 million deficit and has its third superintendent in eight months. But this is an unusual school board race, especially since, as Groff reports, it is Nampa’s first crop of contested school board races in six years.
No such issue this year. The lineup for Tuesday’s election:
Zone 3: Bob Otten (incumbent), Clayton Trehal.
Zone 4: Brian McGourty, Kim Rost, Cate Tedeski. Incumbent Scott Kido is not seeking re-election.
Zone 5: Mike Fuller, Dale Wheeler (incumbent).
And the fact that Nampa has seven candidates comes after some drama. McGourty originally said he would drop out of the race, but now says he’s back in the race, citing what he called an “overwhelming response” from voters. (More, again, from the Idaho Press-Tribune.)
(UPDATED, 1:30 p.m., with comments from Hummel.)
Outgoing Superintendent Jay Hummel says his Kuna School District staff and faculty have done a “Herculean” task of focusing on academic growth during tough financial times.
But he says a job at the helm of the Ashland, Ore., School District provides him a chance to move back to a state that provides more focused support to its school system.
“Idaho continues to struggle, has continued to struggle, to provide stability to its K-12 education system,” Hummel said Thursday afternoon.
Stability is not only a matter of funding, he said — although stable funding leads to lower staff turnover and less upheaval for students. It’s also a matter of providing stable focus. Hummel cited an alternative school in Ashland, a K-8 school that homechooling families helped design. The school’s programs have remained relatively intact for its 17-year existence, with the same principal in charge from Day One. “The results are predictably high.”
Hummel, who had led Kuna schools for the past eight years, will start at the Ashland district on July 1.
He was chosen from a field of 19 applicants. “Jay is a well-rounded educational leader who will help us provide the best education for our children and move Ashland public schools forward,” board chairwoman Carol Davis said in a news release.
The Ashland School District, located in southwest Oregon, has an enrollment of nearly 3,000. Kuna, with a fall 2012 enrollment of 5,073, has been one of the state’s fastest-growing school districts, adding more than 1,000 students during Hummel’s tenure as superintendent.
Hummel says his assistant superintendent, Wendy Johnson, is his likely successor. At a meeting Tuesday, Kuna School Board members said they wanted to explore promoting Johnson. The board will interview Johnson for the post during an open session Monday night.
Hummel is the second district superintendent to leave Idaho for an out-of-state job this month.
Coeur d’Alene School Superintendent Hazel Bauman is leaving for western Washington to take an interim superintendent’s job at the Central Kitsap School District. Associate Superintendent Matthew Handelman will take over on an interim basis, starting July 1.
Mike Ferguson spent a quarter century on the state’s payroll, tracking the state’s economic trends and helping Republican and Democratic administrations predict the fiscal future.
Ferguson hasn’t retired from number-crunching. He now plies his trade as director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.
This week, Ferguson crunched the numbers and made a bold prediction: When the 2014 Legislature arrives in Boise in January, lawmakers could be sitting on an extra $162 million that they didn’t expect to have on hand. His forecast is based in part on April revenue collections, which beat projections by $56.4 million.
“The April revenue results have profound implications for fiscal decisions that will be made in the next legislative session,” the center said in a report this week. “It is clear there will be substantially more revenue available than policymakers thought less than two months ago. How this additional revenue is utilized will depend on Idaho’s public policy priorities.”
You can read the full budget analysis here.
For state programs — starting with K-12, which receives 47 percent of Idaho general fund tax dollars — the implications are clear. An unexpected swell in state revenues would provide a potential source of new money. That could easily fund recommendations from Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force, or from a legislative interim committee studying K-12 this summer.
Or the new money could go to any number of other places, from Medicaid expansion and higher education to tax relief and bolstering the state’s budget reserves.
Ferguson has witnessed plenty of legislative sessions — enough to recognize a basic truism. The toughest sessions often occur when lawmakers have extra money to fight over.
Next year could be one of those years.