Funding formula rewrite goes on back burner

A State Board of Education subcommittee is backing away from one of the 20 recommendations issued by Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education — a plan to change the way the state calculates school funding.

A committee charged with implementing task force recommendations opposes this rewrite, Tom Taggart, director of business and operations for the Lakeland School District, told the House Education Committee Tuesday.

School funding involves a complex formula based on student attendance. In 2013, the task force gave unanimous support to a switch to an enrollment-based model.

However, the implementation committee took a closer look at the logistics, costs and benefits of the recommendation.

“To change from attendance to enrollment is a huge change and it impacts a lot of districts,” said Taggart, a committee member. “We felt it was, maybe, a fairly sizable disruption and would cause some issues that didn’t need to happen. “

Predicting districts’  future enrollment would be a gamble, possibly adding to funding uncertainty.

Richard Westerberg
Richard Westerberg

State Board members offered lawmakers a preview of legislation and budget proposals aimed at implementing other task force recommendations.

In a very brief presentation, board member and task force chairman Richard Westerberg laid out the list:

  • Legislation dealing with advanced student opportunities, strategic planning and continuous improvement plans for districts, and a plan to create a career ladder form of teacher pay, replacing the state’s existing salary grid.
  • Proposed rule changes addressing tiered licensure for teacher certification and student learning.
  • Budget requests for college and career counseling, training for school board members and administrators, professional development for teachers, classroom technology, a partial restoration of discretionary funding for districts, funding for the career ladder and a proposal to pilot a mastery-based system of education in a small number of districts. The mastery recommendation calls for students to advance between grade levels and classes based on command of a subject, rather than simply spending an academic year in one grade.

“These are good recommendations, and they were arrived buy a very caring … and bright group of individual through the most deliberative process I have seen go on in the state of Idaho through my tenure here,” Westerberg said.

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said much of his committee’s work this session will be dedicated to implementing task force recommendations.

State Board and implementation committee members made a similar presentation to the Senate Education Committee Tuesday afternoon.


Clark Corbin

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