And now the hard work begins. A new state school funding formula could begin taking shape Wednesday.
A legislative working committee will meet again at the Statehouse, and this time, the agenda signals a shift to the nuts and bolts.
Lawmakers have two hours blocked off to discuss and decide what to include in a formula. Then, after a lunch break, they have two hours blocked off to discuss the structure of a new formula.
This discussion has been two years in the making.
The 10-member committee started meeting in 2016, and spent the previous two legislative off-seasons studying the formula — a complicated calculation that will be used to carve up nearly $1.8 billion this budget year.
The state hasn’t rewritten its funding formula since 1994. Supporters of a rewrite say the old formula doesn’t reflect a quarter century’s changes in education — such as the advent of online courses, the expansion of dual-credit courses and the state’s growing system of charter schools.
Last month, the committee’s paid consultants traveled the state for a series of public meetings, and closed-door focus groups with school administrators. These meetings were closed not only to taxpayers and the news media, but to the lawmakers themselves. In hearings, the part of the road show that was open to the public, consultants heard an appeal for funding flexibility from school administrators, and an appeal for pay raises from veteran teachers.
The committee will kick off Wednesday’s meeting with a briefing on the public hearings from a staffer from the Education Commission of the States, the committee’s Denver-based consulting firm.
The committee and ECS will work on a new funding formula through October, when consultants are expected to finish a report to lawmakers. From there, it’s up to the committee to draw up proposals to present to the 2019 Legislature.
The committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., in room EW 42 of the Statehouse’s basement garden level. The meeting will also be streamed on Idaho Public Television’s Legislature Live website.
Check back at Idaho Education News Wednesday for meeting coverage.