By Terry Ryan
With the right political leadership in coming months and years, Idaho is well positioned to be a national leader in modernizing its public education finance system. The state’s current funding formula goes back to 1994, and according to the Education Commission of the State, “the current formula did not contemplate a variety of different learning modalities, the increasing mobility of students and the states move toward mastery-based education.” Nor, did it contemplate a system of universal school choice.
The current system is increasingly archaic and there is an emerging consensus among Idaho lawmakers, policy makers and even district officials that the time is right for Idaho to craft a new funding system. The state convened a “School Funding Work Group” committed to finding “a funding framework that better meets the needs of a system that is changing.” House Concurrent Resolution No. 33, authorized “the Legislative Council to appoint a Committee to Undertake and Complete a Study of the Public School Funding Formula and Make Recommendations.” In February the work group issued “A Final Report: Public School Funding Formula.”
As an education stakeholder that works closely with many of the state’s charter schools and a number of public school districts we are proud to have presented this school funding presentation to EdScape in late 2016 and to lawmakers and other public school funding members in early 2017. Thanks to Bryan Hassel and his colleagues at Public Impact for their help and support in this work.
We’d also like to encourage everyone interested in the future of school funding in Idaho to explore the Idaho Funding Simulator. It makes real what is possible in Idaho if the state pursues a strategy where taxpayer dollars follow the children to their schools of choice.