‘A historic moment:’ State Board members praise Little’s education funding proposal

They didn’t take a vote, but they made their support clear.

State Board of Education members threw their backing Wednesday behind Gov. Brad Little’s plan to siphon an additional $410 million a year into education funding.

Little has called the Legislature back to Boise for a Sept. 1 special session, to vote on a far-reaching bill that includes $500 million in one-time tax credits, $150 million a year of ongoing income tax cuts, and the increase in education funding. He unveiled the plan Tuesday morning. (Click here to read more about the announcement, and other reactions to Little’s plan.)

From a timing standpoint, that left the State Board with few options. The board could not add a vote on Little’s proposal to its Wednesday agenda; agencies can only add “action items” to an agenda with at least 48 hours’ notice.

But the lack of a vote was little more than a formality. And Wednesday’s discussion wasn’t much of a surprise. The board, comprised largely of gubernatorial appointees, took turns praising Little and his proposal.

“This is a significant investment, not just in our K-12 system but in our higher education system,” board President Kurt Liebich said.

“It is a historic moment for Idaho,” board member Shawn Keough said.

“Louder than anything, this speaks to the commitment from our governor and the Legislature,” board member Linda Clark said.

And state superintendent Sherri Ybarra — the lone State Board member who isn’t a gubernatorial appointee — was no less effusive. “It’s just a great day for public education.”

Legislative proposals

The State Board did weigh in on 15 bills that will wait until January, when the 2023 Legislature goes into session.

The board endorsed the 15 bills with little discussion Wednesday.

Most of the proposals are minor, administrative fixes. But two are more significant.

One would permanently shift the state’s K-12 funding formula to an enrollment-based model. During the pandemic, the state abandoned its old formula, which was based on average daily student attendance. The current enrollment-based formula rule, adopted this spring, would expire at the end of the 2023 legislative session.

A second proposal would allow school districts and charter schools to set up paid apprenticeship programs to train new teachers. The idea, the board says, is to allow schools to come up with grow-your-own programs, enabling paraprofessionals to get a teaching certificate without a four-year degree or an alternative teacher certificate.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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