Updated: May 2, 2020
One of the mandates from the Idaho Constitution is that it “shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” To this end, education accounts for over 50% of the state budget, excluding the contributions from local taxpayers through property taxes for supplemental levies, facilities levies and bonds. In 2014 the former “steps and lanes” salary appropriation model was replaced by a Career Ladder. This past year the Career Ladder was revised to recognize and modify appropriations to address the lower state appropriations for veteran teachers. The booming economy of the past eight years has created a challenge to recruit and retain quality teachers. In 2018 I was appointed the Chairman of the House Education Committee and have committed to assure that our Education Policy reflects the state constitutional mandate will provide a quality education for our youth. Allowing parents’ choice of traditional public and charter schools, private schools, digital learning opportunities or homeschooling provides a means for more parents to take ownership and participate in the education of their students.
The current Covid-19 Virus and related soft school closure has created a new challenge. We need to assure that future legislation prepares us for such situations. What learn from this national crisis and how we modify existing policy will be high on our agenda in the coming legislative session.