GOP legislative leaders introduced their school facilities proposal in the House Education Committee today, calling for earmarking $25 million from the state surplus, plus an additional $8 million to $9 million a year in aid for school repairs and bond levies in poorer districts. “We need to make sure we don’t punish the districts that have stepped up to the plate and funded schools through bonds,” said committee Chairman Rep. Jack Barraclough, R-Idaho Falls. “At the same time, we don’t want to reward districts that haven’t funded their schools.” House Majority Leader Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, according to the Associated Press, added, “It’s a good time to set up that fund now that we have the means.”
The school districts that successfully sued the state over inadequate funding for school construction immediately called the plan inadequate. “That would only be a drop in the bucket,” said Stan Kress, Cottonwood Joint School District superintendent. The districts have proposed a $50 million a year plan. A competing measure from House Democrats John Rusche and Shirley Ringo would give $35 million up front to help repair deteriorating schools and dedicate 5 percent of state sales tax revenues, about $55 million annually, to an ongoing school construction account.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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