Today is the final day of agency budget-setting in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee; first up this morning is the “intent language” for the public school budget that was delayed earlier this week at the request of Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls. This is the language that lays out the details of the $21 million in funding for one-time teacher bonuses and professional development, at school district discretion; and for the $13.4 million in funding for classroom technology.
“There’s been input from the Senate Education Committee,” legislative budget analyst Paul Headlee told the joint committee this morning. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, JFAC co-chair, said he was meeting until 7 p.m. yesterday with Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene and others to work out the final wording.
Five small changes in wording were agreed on and presented to the joint committee this morning. One changes the distribution date for the $21 million from Nov. 15, 2013 to Feb. 15, 2014, which works better for the state Department of Education. Another adds the word “leadership” to the section about the 40 percent of the $21 million that goes to professional development. That now shows that money can go for “professional development, leadership, and resources necessary to implement Idaho core mathematical and English language arts standards.”
Another change adds flexibility for districts to shift some funds around, a power which they already have. The fourth notes that $8 million of the classroom technology money “shall be distributed for classroom technology that assists teachers and students in effective and efficient instruction.” That’s a change from the previous wording, which said, “that assists teachers in the effective and efficient delivery of instruction.” The final alteration changes the word “shall” to “may” in a clause about how the state Department of Education can spend $150,000 of the tech money for an internet portal of available online classes, as directed in SB 1091.