The K-12 budgets. The House of Representatives hit a grinding halt Thursday, as conservative lawmakers used procedural objections to delay floor votes. The House started the week by passing the seven K-12 budget bills in 28 minutes, with no debate and only a smattering of dissenting votes. The budgets passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday.
A sneak preview of next year? The Senate spent some time debating one aspect of the K-12 budgets. Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer wound up supporting the budgets, but said they didn’t go far enough to help schools shoulder health benefit costs that have reached $160 million a year. This is just one of several tough K-12 issues that the 2017 Legislature will leave unresolved.
Rural initiative stalls. For the second consecutive session, state Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s rural schools support network pilot stalled in the Senate. Ybarra wants to create a pilot to help overworked rural administrators collaborate and share scarce resources. An ad hoc committee will work on the issue in the months to come.
A close look at school elections. Idaho voters approved $695 million in school bonds and levies on March 14. But that doesn’t equate to $695 million in new taxes; in many cases, local property tax rates will remain unchanged. Meanwhile, Canyon County’s Vallivue School District will go back to the polls in May with two levy proposals:
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Report cards for charter school laws. On Wednesday, two pro-charter school groups issued separate reports on state charter school laws. Both groups gave Idaho’s laws middling grades, citing funding gaps between traditional schools and charter schools.
Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News, an independent news site focused on K-12 policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist in Idaho since 1985.