Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra called on school administrators to continue to use their voices and expertise to shape school policy Friday.
Speaking at the Idaho Association of School Administrators annual conference, Ybarra said educators’ feedback is the reason legislators put the brakes on a proposed school funding formula during the 2019 session.
“I just want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, how impressed I was this past legislative session with the superintendents and other administrators that came together to weigh in on one of these challenges, which was the proposed new public schools funding formula,” Ybarra said. “You called your legislators, you wrote and articulated compelling letters and emails, you showed up at committee hearings and meeting to share your concerns, asked questions and learned about what was about to be proposed.
“Your individual and collective voices made a difference,” she continued. “In fact, you made all the difference.”
But, Ybarra reminded administrators to stay vigilant. A new funding formula proposal is likely to surface during the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
“I encourage you to continue to monitor the developments with the school funding formula and be ready to engage in a positive and constructive way to ensure the policies being debated are informed by your expertise,” Ybarra said.
Any change to the funding formula is important because of the money involved and the far-reaching impact. Public school funding is Idaho’s largest general fund expense each year, accounting for almost $2 billion worth of the taxpayers’ money.
During her speech, Ybarra also said her upcoming 2021 budget request would look a little different and likely feature some revisions in order to reflect recommendations from Gov. Brad Little’s education task force. Normally Ybarra and other agency directors submit budget requests on Sept. 1 each year. But Little’s task force recommendations aren’t due until November, and Ybarra wants to wait and see which proposals receive support.
More than 100 administrators attending a panel discussion on elementary literacy heard Ybarra’s remarks. Those in attendance included West Ada Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells, Nampa Superintendent Paula Kellerer, newly hired Middleton Superintendent Sherawn Reberry, Idaho Fall Superintendent George Boland, Bonneville Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme and Payette Superintendent Robin Gilbert.