The Legislature’s interim education committee won’t meet for the first time until late August at the earliest.
Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he spoke with legislative staffers on June 21 to begin setting up a timeframe and developing a list of subjects for committee members to address.
The Legislative Council unanimously appointed the 10-member interim committee on May 30, but Goedde said busy summer schedules are preventing the group from convening sooner.
Goedde and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, head the interim committee. The two lawmakers also lead the Senate and House education committees, respectively.
“I anticipate the first meeting won’t happen until the end of August or the first of September,” Goedde said on Wednesday. “Rep. DeMordaunt has a fairly tight schedule for the rest of the summer. When trying to fit his schedule and my schedule together we came to the conclusion to push it back to the date I indicated.”
Legislation creating the interim committee calls on the group to report back its findings, if any, to the 2014 Legislature.
By September, the initial budget framework for the following year’s legislative session will already be coming together. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and all agency heads typically submit a budget request to the state by Sept. 1, State Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said.
Typically, Luna and his staff revise that preliminary budget and submit updated financials again in December or January – before appearing in front of state budget writers.
Because the interim committee may not meet by Sept. 1 and because Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education won’t release its findings to the State Board of Education until Aug. 23, those groups recommendations could bump up against the early stages of budgeting.
“That’s going to be a new dynamic this year – many of those (recommendations) could affect budget requests,” McGrath said.
Due to those timing issues, McGrath said her office might ask for flexibility in preparing its preliminary 2014-15 budget.
“We might need to get approval or ask the Division of Financial Management for an extension,” McGrath said. “That’s something we might pursue because there are a lot of moving parts this year.”
The Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will set the official 2014-2015 public school budget in the spring of 2014.
Although Goedde stressed “nothing is cast in concrete,” he said the interim committee’s meetings will likely take place in Boise. Goedde anticipates convening at least four meetings (which would, for example, allow the group to meet once a month between September and December) and members would likely be able to attend via video or online conference if they live far from Boise.
Once they convene, committee members will have the authority to tackle a wide range of issues. House Concurrent Resolution 33, which authorized the interim committee, calls for members “to undertake and complete a study of how to improve and strengthen Idaho’s K-12 educational system and all matters relating thereto.”