House Bill 220 – Public school support, teachers

Fred Birnbaum House budget bills 2019

The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:

Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?

Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.

Analysis: 

The public school support budget contains 6 divisions plus support for the education of the deaf and blind. In total, public school support totals over $2.2 billion in state and federal funds. The appropriation for teachers is one of the divisions and reflects the state’s portion of spending to pay for Idaho’s K-12 teachers.

House Bill 296 in Fiscal Year 2015 projected a five-year career ladder cost of $213,938,110 for salaries and benefits. The actual cost will be $226,342,700, 5.8 percent higher. The 5.8 percent is not due to higher support units (classrooms). No real system of accountability for teacher performance has been implemented, despite bill language calling for “measurable student achievement,” to be an objective on which higher spending was to be justified.

$226 million is the ongoing cost of the career ladder.

There is no base reduction and the career ladder increase, year five, is about $50 million, including pupil services staff. So, the maintenance budget represents a 6.5 percent increase over FY19. The increase in support units (classroom units essentially) is only 1.7 percent.

Accountability was a key element of the Governor’s Task Force on Education report in 2013 and HB 296 (from FY15) contained the following language in the statement of purpose: “The performance criteria would use the existing statewide evaluation framework and student achievement or growth targets established at the district level.” The state has struggled both with consistent teacher evaluations and achieving the overall goals of the task force report.

Final score: (-1)