Published: January 6, 2005
Idaho’s school finance formula assumes each district will contribute three-tenths of a percent of local property value to the total foundation program. The state does not require districts to raise that amount to receive state aid, but assumes they will do so and adjusts state aid accordingly. The state adjusts the amount it provides to districts for different grade levels, alternative education students, gifted-and-talented students, special education students, and the education and experience of teachers. Idaho also provides an unusual incentive to reduce the number of uncertified teachers: After a district’s total state aid allocation is calculated, the state subtracts the contract salary for every teacher working in the district without certification. Idaho has 19 categorical programs that provided about $966 million for specific purposes in fiscal 2004. Those programs include support for transportation, literacy initiatives, teacher benefits, substance-abuse-prevention programs, bilingual students, gifted-and-talented students, school facilities, and technology. The finance system was challenged in 1993 in Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity v. Evans. But the plaintiffs’ claim was dismissed except for the portion regarding state financing for school facilities. Idaho still faces a court decision to determine whether changes that the legislature passed to help low-wealth districts repay interest on their school construction loans meet constitutional requirements.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 64