Many Idaho students are being short-changed in their education. Needs-based funding is essential to giving them a fair shake.
Idaho children are our most precious resource and they deserve the best education possible. They are competing not only within our state but also nationally and even internationally. How do we best prepare them? By ensuring we offer what they need for success in their classrooms and schools.
A needs-based budget does just that — it provides resources for what educators have determined is necessary to create the kind of education where students will thrive and have a successful future. For the past few years, schools have struggled to meet those requirements. The proposed Idaho Department of Education budget does not include what most local districts around the state have determined is best for their schools. In fact, last year, just in salaries alone, districts paid out around $208 million dollars more than they received from the state’s budget!
How is that possible? The burden has been put on the local communities to run what are often called “supplemental levies,” when in actuality there is nothing supplemental about them. Locally elected school boards are asking for their neighbors to contribute through property tax to fund their schools.
This creates an inequality in the education that Idaho students are getting. Some districts have a tax base that can support the local needs – others do not. Therefore, many students are left out. Sadly, the quality of their education is determined by where they live.
Why does this matter? Because we know that a high-quality education for children provides a brighter future for them, and it contributes to the overall economy of our state. In addition to those reasons, the Idaho Constitution in Article IX, Section 1 clearly states that it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.
Research also tells us that student achievement is closely linked to poverty and many of those students are in areas that cannot pass a levy.
So, what can we do about it? When I am elected Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction, I plan to request a “needs-based” budget, one that clearly identifies and then fully funds the needs of all Idaho children — equally and without discrimination.
Why wouldn’t we take care of Idaho’s most valuable resource?
Written by Cindy Wilson, Democratic candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.