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Idaho Board of Education Releases Annual Report

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Idaho's Department of Education recently released its year 2001-2002 annual statistical report on the status of school districts in Idaho. An initial perusal of the document suggests that Idaho's schools, despite lesser than anticipated revenues from the state Legislature last year, are still gaining ground in the area of salaries.

According to the report, Lake Pend Oreille School District #84 ranks at number 17 in the state's 114 school districts in terms of student population, with 4,108 students reported. West Bonner County District #83, with 1515 students, is ranked 36 and Boundary County's District 101 comes in at number 34.

In districts with 2500 to 4999 students, like #84, the average expenditure per student is $2770.

Boundary County and West Bonner County both fall in the category of districts with student populations of 1000 to 2499 students, where the average expenditure per student last year was $2749.

According to the state statistics, 85.10% of all certified staff in Idaho school districts fall under the classification of instructional services; positions like teachers and counselors. 8.02% of certified staff is categorized as student services. The remainder are administrative personnel - with 4.37% falling under school administrative (principals, etc) and the remaining 2.51% being district administration.

This report, along with additional information, is being used in Lake Pend Oreille School district to provide information to a group of citizens and district personnel working to make recommendations to the board of trustees regarding budget issues for the upcoming school year. In response to community concerns that administration costs, in particular, seem high in a time when the district is faced with budget shortfalls requiring cuts of over $1 million from previous budgets, this citizens committee (see sidebar at right) is working to provide proactive suggestions on ways the district might save money.

One tool in that toolbox is to compare the district with other districts in similar circumstances, depending on the issue under investigation at the time. In the maintenance department, for example, it's important for the committee to compare numbers with districts who maintain (or, more properly, struggle to maintain) the same amount of schools. For transportation, the issues arise concerning miles traveled. And for administration, particularly district-level administration, the comparisons would be with schools serving roughly the same number of students with the same number of staff.

One group of citizens concerned with the status of Lake Pend Oreille's school district has posted a website, focusonschools.org. The website includes information on school funding, citizen's minutes of public school meetings and other information relating to the school district.

According to that site, in the last three years spending at District #84 has increased 23%, even though enrollment is said to be down 6% and classroom staffing has remained fairly constant. Current, objective data from an entity like the Department of Education, will  help to determine just how accurate those figures are, and give some clear direction to the committee for the recommendations they hope to make.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

education, Lake Pend Oreille School District, salaries, Idaho, Boundary County, West Bonner County School District

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