The House Education Committee today voted unanimously to introduce a bill sponsored by its chairman, Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, and Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, to restore funding left in limbo by the November defeat of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 back into the public schools budget for this year. Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News reports that DeMordaunt told the committee, “These are funds that our districts budgeted on when they set their budgets last June or July. There were certain laws that were in place, and they budgeted based on those laws.” You can read Corbin’s full report here.
Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, also is co-sponsoring the legislation, which rolls the $2.5 million that had been tabbed for laptop computers this year under the voter-repealed “Students Come First” laws back into Idaho school districts’ allocation this year for technology and professional development. The bill also restores funding for the rest of the year for dual-credit courses for high school students; restores the “use it or lose it flexibility” granted to districts in this year’s public schools budget; and restores education credits in the teacher salary grid; the repeal had moved the law back to the previous year’s version, which had frozen those. The bill doesn’t restore the 1.67 percent cut from state teacher salary funds as part of the “Students Come First” laws this year; state schools Superintendent Tom Luna yesterday proposed restoring those funds in next year’s budget.
The various laws repealed by the voters’ rejection of Props 1, 2 and 3 left $30.6 million unallocated in this year’s public school budget. Under the bill, all of that would be restored, plus $111,000. However, because the repealed laws had various impacts, both negative and postive, on that total, not all items are rolled back to their pre-Students Come First level under the bill; for example, an early retirement incentive program for teachers wasn't restored, but a program funding more math and science teachers was. The bill won't show up on the Legislature's website or get a bill number until Monday, because the committee met after the House had adjourned this morning after its brief, 8 a.m. Friday floor session.