Scholarships, Teacher Raises Approved in Idaho Legislature
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative session. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
State lawmakers approved a scholarship program for low-income students, teacher raises, and increased math and science requirements for high school graduates, in the Idaho legislative session that ended March 30.
Newly elected Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna got most of what he had requested in the $1.37 billion pre-K-12 budget approved for fiscal 2008, including $10 million for textbooks, $5 million for classroom supplies, and $5 million for remedial instruction to help students pass the Idaho Standards Achievement Test.
The K-12 budget, which makes up nearly half the $2.8 billion total state budget, represents a 5.9 percent increase over the current year and includes 3 percent more for teacher pay. Starting pay for teachers will go from $30,000 to $31,000 a year.
For community colleges, lawmakers approved a 6.9 percent increase in state funding, and for the state’s four-year colleges and universities, 8.4 percent.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, who was elected in November, initially had requested a $38 million self-sustaining endowment to finance college scholarships for low-income Idaho students; the fund would have generated about $2 million in scholarships each year. Instead, the legislature approved $12 million—$2 million of which will be put toward scholarships in the coming year, while the remainder will go into an endowment to generate interest to pay for future scholarship awards.
Increased math and science requirements for high school graduation won approval, mandating three years of each, up from two years of each. The requirement will begin with the class of 2013.
However, the House defeated a proposal to set standards for early-childhood-learning programs, as well as a bill that sought to improve standards for day-care operations. The House passed another measure saying the state shouldn’t impinge on the role of parents in educating preschoolers.
Vol. 26, Issue 32, Page 24