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State Education Budget Requests Seek Security for Veteran Idaho Teachers

The budget proposal for the 2022 school year was submitted by Sherri Ybarra, the superintendent for the state education department, this week.

The career ladder was frozen this past spring as part of the pandemic-triggered 5 percent holdback requested of K-12 schools and all state agencies.

“The pandemic has changed many things, including how we deliver instruction to students in many of our schools,” Superintendent Ybarra said. “But what hasn’t changed is the vital need for K-12 students to get the educational opportunities they deserve. And for that, we need dedicated teachers.”

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Marilyn Whitney, the deputy superintendent for communications and policy for the state department of education said that Sherri Ybarra is hopeful in what these changes will do for teachers in Idaho.

“The superintendent is really focused in putting people first, and funding the career ladder for our teachers and our other staff in our schools that support students,” Whitney said.

Her budget request includes $3.4 million for a 2 percent increase in classified staff’s pay and $21.7 million for restoring the career ladder.

The request also includes a $10.6 million increase in discretionary funds for school districts and charter schools to cover increased costs for employees’ health insurance.

She said that the superintendent’s mission is to support schools and students to achieve and said that the best way to do that is to make sure that all students have the teachers and other support personnel that they need to be successful.

The request totals $2 billion in state general funds, an increase of just 1.5 percent above the $1.97 billion legislators originally approved for the current school year. Although it does unfreeze the career ladder, the budget request does not seek to fully restore other cuts necessitated by the one-time 5 percent holdback.

“Her budget requests for next year really focuses in on making sure that we are recruiting and retaining great teachers and other school support for our students,” Whitney said.

Nearly a third of Ybarra’s total request -- $62.7 million -- is nondiscretionary spending required by statute for growth in student numbers and programs including the master educator premium and Advanced Opportunities. Projected growth, particularly in enrollment and participation in the State Department of Education’s highly successful Advanced Opportunities program, necessitates increasing those line items. More and more students are taking full advantage of Advanced Opportunities, which promises $4,125 to each participating student to jump-start their higher education or career training by earning college credits before graduating high school.

BYU-Idaho Radio · New Budget Information from the State Education Department