Bedke: Pre-K push unlikely in 2016

A funding boost for K-12 is a done deal, House Speaker Scott Bedke said Thursday.

But don’t expect that to extend to early childhood education.

Speaking to reporters at an Associated Press legislative preview, Bedke said it’s unlikely that lawmakers will want to “shoehorn” an extra year of funding into Idaho’s K-12 funding obligation.

Scott Bedke
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley

But Bedke left the door open to a pre-K pilot bill.

“I would say there are some interesting proposals out there,” said Bedke, R-Oakley.

Pre-K pilot bills have surfaced during the past two legislative sessions — but neither have made it out of the House Education Committee. And another push for pre-K is likely to come in 2016.

Idaho is one of only six states that does not fund pre-K.

On another education topic, Bedke again predicted a push to move some school trustee elections to the November general election. Turnout in May trustee races has been “dismal,” Bedke said, and he expects a discussion about moving the election.

Mat Erpelding
Rep. Mat Erpelding, House assistant majority leader

“I’m not going to predict the outcome,” he said.

Rep. Mat Erpelding, the House’s assistant minority leader, said the state would be better off encouraging voter turnout by adopting a vote-by-mail system. He questioned the wisdom of holding nonpartisan school trustee elections in conjunction with partisan races.

“(It) may not be the best approach for checks and balances,” said Erpelding, D-Boise.