A $714 million election day. At least 46 of Idaho’s 115 school districts will go to the polls on March 14, seeking bond issues or property tax levies. The total bill comes to at least $715 million, although many districts are just looking to continue levies that are already on the books. Regardless, this shapes up as an unusually busy school election.
A debate as old as Idaho ... For school districts pursuing bond issues, a daunting hurdle awaits; they must secure two-thirds support to enter into long-term debt. This “supermajority” threshold is part of the Idaho Constitution, and it goes back to statehood. Supporters say the supermajority protects taxpayers from frivolous spending; opponents say a 60 percent threshold would strike a more reasonable balance.
… and a debate that ends, for now. The fight over school science standards ended Monday, with something of a whimper. The Senate Education Committee sided with its House counterpart and approved the temporary standards, while agreeing to remove references to climate change. Because the standards are only temporary, legislators will have to look at them again in 2018.
The K-12 budget takes shape. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a K-12 budget proposal. A couple of salient numbers: The proposed budgets would increase K-12 spending by $100.6 million, and include $61.9 million for teacher pay raises.
Gun safety training in schools? Rep. Ron Nate is pushing a bill that would encourage schools to offer elective courses in gun safety. “It is a responsibility of ours to educate children as best we can for firearms and firearm safety,” said Nate, R-Rexburg. The House Education Committee introduced the bill, but Democrats on the committee questioned the need.
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.