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A Seat in the House

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Funding for Education

School levies are an issue in our area and as a result I am receiving questions on what financial support the state provides for public education. Given this interest in school funding this article will summarize this year’s legislative appropriation for education. However, it needs to be recognized public school funding is dependent upon three sources: 1) the federal government, 2) the state and 3) each school district’s property owners through property taxes.

The state’s allocation for each school district is dependent upon student enrollment and a school funding formula that attempts to provide equalization in the allocation for each school district to avoid a district being disadvantaged in education funding simply because of economic conditions in that district.

It is appropriate to note that the school funding formula is over 10 years old and should be revised. Senator Keough from our district will be leading an effort over the next few months to determine what changes may be appropriate to bring the formula in line with present conditions.

In general the fiscal year 2009 public school appropriation from General Funds was increased from the FY ‘08 appropriation of 1.37 billion dollars to 1.42 billion dollars, an increase of about 3.7 percent. As stated, the allocation to each school depends in part on student enrollment; thus the FY ‘09 appropriation included funding 170 new support units in order to keep pace with student enrollment in the state. Not all schools are seeing increasing enrollments however, and as a result may see decreases in their state funding. Such appears to be the case with some schools in our area.

Several years ago the legislature divided the public school appropriation into five different segments to provide more information and insight into funding for specific education areas. Funding by the individual segments (divisions) for FY ‘09 is as follows:

The administrator’s division was allocated $87,541,800, representing an increase of 2.8 percent. Counting the federal funds in this allocation, which are the same as FY ‘08, the overall increase was about 2.7 percent. This appropriation allows a 2 percent salary increase for administrators.

The teacher’s division was allocated $817,074,500. This is an increase of 3.4 percent in the General Funds portion of the funding and an overall increase of 3.1 percent including federal dollars. Included in this appropriation was funding to raise the minimum teacher’s salary from $31,000 to $31,750, a 2.4 percent increase. Approximately $5.4 million was included in this appropriation to provide each teacher $350 to purchase school supplies. There was also an additional $50,000 provided in this appropriation to fund a Teacher Evaluation Task Force to develop a fair and consistent standard for teacher evaluation.

The Operations Division was allocated $584,032,700, a General Fund increase of 16.2 percent and a total funds increase of 2.2 percent. This appropriation increases the base salary provided by the state for classified staff from $19,783 to $20,376. The appropriation also funds transportation shortfalls in the districts and $9.95 million for textbooks and computer software. It also provides an additional $9.15 million for school technology grants.

The Children’s Programs Division was appropriated $170,449,400, an increase in the General Funds portion of this program of 16.2 percent. This appropriation includes $3,129,500 for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy and $7,000,000 for the Idaho Safe and Drug-free Schools program.

The legislature also included $3.97 million in the Children’s Programs Division to implement a statewide math initiative and provided other discretionary funding to support the Idaho Reading Initiative, ISAT remediation and grant funds for Limited English Proficient grants.

Finally, the Facilities Division was allocated $36,850,000, a General Funds increase of 47.8 percent and a total funds increase of 12.4 percent. This large increase is the result of providing $16.5 million to support the Bond Levy Equalization program that provides subsidies to school districts to help with debt payment on bonds approved by voters in the district. The appropriation also includes state lottery funds in the amount of $17.25 million for school maintenance support.

The total General Fund appropriation of 1.4 billion dollars represents 47.9 percent of the state’s General Fund account. The total education appropriation from just General Funds, including the higher education component, is 1,878.8 billion dollars or about 63.5 percent of the General Fund appropriation.

Education funding represents the highest state appropriation when all elements of the state’s education program are combined; however, as stated in the beginning, the state’s contribution is only one leg of the three-legged funding stool. The remainder is provided by taxpayers in the local school districts and funds received from the gederal government. Levy elections allow local citizens the opportunity to determine to what degree they want to supplement funding from the state and federal sources.

Finally for Idaho readers, May 20 is the voting day for proposed school levies and May 27 is the Idaho primary election. Good government is dependent upon the participation of its citizens so on May 20 and May 27 remember to go to the polls and exercise your right to vote.

Thanks for reading and as always please feel free to contact me with issues important to you. My home phone is 208-265-0123 and my mailing address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, 83825. George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

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