The House Education Committee has approved HB 65, the bill sponsored by its chairman, Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, and Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, to restore funding for the current year back to the public school budget despite program eliminations due to the defeat of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in the November election. “I put this before you at this point in time to allow our school districts to have the funds they need in order to meet the expectations that we already set for them,” DeMordaunt told the committee.
The bill is complex, restoring some items but not others; the bottom line is a small increase for schools this year rather than a potential loss of $30 million. Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “I ‘m a little bit surprised that we don’t have some people coming in here and saying thank you.”
Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, said, “This bill was necessary. … There were unintended consequences, and there always are. … We really needed to come in and do these things to hold our school districts, make them whole. Because there were some really tough things – well, impossible things if that money was not put back. … They can’t meet their obligations, and we can’t do that to them.”
Among other provisions, the bill restores funding for additional math and science teachers added this year; covers costs for students already enrolled in dual courses; shifts $2.5 million tabbed for laptop computers into technology-related professional development for teachers; and restores funding for payments to teachers who achieve national board certification. The bill now moves to the full House for debate. Without it, those funds would have sat unallocated in the school budget, and flowed, at the end of the year, into the public education stabilization fund, a savings account for schools.