House Bill 627 – Public school support, teachers

Fred Birnbaum 2020 Idaho Spending Index Leave a Comment

Bill description: Public school support, teachers, Fiscal Year 2021 appropriation

Rating: -1

Analysis:

The public school support budget contains six divisions plus support for the education of the deaf and blind. 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. 

This bill serves to provide funding for the first year of the new Career Ladder as part of the appropriation. As we stated in reviewing this appropriation last year, no real system of accountability for teacher performance has been implemented. This is despite the original bill language calling for “measurable student achievement,” to be an objective on which higher spending was to be justified. The updated Career Ladder bill, House Bill 523, purports to move further toward a system of accountability, but given the vagueness in the language, it does not make sense to commit an incremental $224 million to the Career Ladder (the additional run rate funding at the end of the fifth year). 

One other issue with this bill is a line item addition of $1 million for additional professional development above the base $17.85 million recommended by the governor. This money was originally a line item for “Social and Emotional Learning,” in the Central Services budget. That line was removed and the funds were renamed as additional professional development. Nothing requires their use for social and emotional Learning, nor does anything prevent it. 

Finally, the total request is actually larger than the governor’s request because there is a trailer bill for $8.3 million for the Advanced Professional Rung of the Career Ladder and there was a $4 million federal true-up reduction. When these amounts are factored in, this budget exceeds the governor’s request.