Facts About Public Education in Idaho

  • Idaho’s public school system was established by the Territorial Legislature in 1864. By the early 1940s, Idaho had 1,082 school districts. By 1961, the number of districts was consolidated to 116.
  • Public schools are operated by locally elected public school boards and receive money from local, state and federal sources.
  • School districts are organized around geographic lines. As of April 2015 there are 115 districts in Idaho. Some districts operate one school, others operate several dozen schools.
  • All Idaho children between the ages of 7 and 16 must be enrolled in school or receive private tutoring (home schooling) from a parent or guardian. Kindergartners must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 of their first school year.


State funds pay for about 58% of public education costs, while federal sources cover about 9 percent. The rest is a mix of local dollars.
Public School Funding

  • Every year, the Idaho Legislature decides how much state money public schools will receive; the Legislature also sets standards for how much teachers should be paid. The funding formula for Idaho’s public schools is complicated. It’s based on:
    1. number of students enrolled adjusted for attendance
    2. teacher salaries
    3. a portion of teacher benefits
    4. a portion of busing costs (if provided by the school)
    5. some 25 other funding categories for specific items that schools might access
  • Public school districts can raise additional money by passing local public levies and bonds or by applying for federal and private grants or subsidies.
  • Public schools also receive 50 percent of the Idaho Lottery’s net funds.
  • Idaho public schools, on average, spend $6,821 per enrolled student.
  • However, ZIP code often determines how much money is spent on a child’s education.
  • Boise Independent School District spends $9,487 per enrolled student while Nampa School District operates at $6,809 per enrolled student. This discrepancy is largely the result of local property tax values.

Number of public school districts in Idaho: 115
Number of public district schools: 674
Number of students attending Idaho public district schools: 274,046
Students in Schools of Choice: 65,099
26,791 private and home-school students
20,219 public charter school students
12,317 public magnet school students
5,772 alternative school students