School funding formula committee to reconvene Monday

The Legislature’s school funding formula interim committee will reconvene Monday in Boise to discuss its final recommendations.

State lawmakers created the interim committee in 2016 and tasked its members with developing recommendations for improving and modernizing the formula for funding Idaho’s public schools.

Public school funding accounts for about 48 percent of all state general fund spending, but the complicated formula that drives how dollars are distributed to districts and charters has not been updated since 1994. That means the formula was written before online courses, dual credit programs, the proliferation of charter schools and many other realities of a 21st century education.

After more than a year of work, the funding formula committee recommended in September that the state ditch its existing attendance-based model of funding in favor of an enrollment-based formula.

During Monday’s upcoming meeting, committee members are expected to continue discussing the logistics of making that change.

The agenda calls for the committee to consider the following questions:

  • How do you define enrollment?
  • How do you define fractional enrollment?
  • How do you account for absenteeism?
  • How do you count enrollment at Idaho Digital Virtual Academy or other online, virtual schools?
  • What laws and administrative rules need to be amended or repealed to facilitate the change?

During the second half of Monday’s meeting, committee members will delve into a discussion about the frequency of counting students for enrollment and the frequency of payments to public schools and charters.

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“It doesn’t seem like it would be that technical of a change, but it actually really is,” said Rep. Wendy Horman, the Idaho Falls Republican who co-chairs the committee. “There are lots of logistics involved, and we want to make sure those are all out on the table for the committee to understand.”

Monday’s meeting is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room East Wing 42 of the Statehouse.

The 2018 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 8, and typically runs for almost three months.

Check back with Idaho Education News on Monday evening for full coverage of the meeting.

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