I went back to school this week.

Educators, administrators, and students joined us at the Capitol for our annual Education Week. We’ve heard from folks representing everything from K-12 and stem learning to our public universities and community colleges.

The kids we met are amazing. The educators who want to help our students pursue their dreams are pretty amazing, too.

We’ve assessed multiple budgets, seen some fantastic displays, and learned how we can better serve our students.

Schools Need Teachers

One thing we reviewed was increasing starting pay for new teachers to $40,000. In his proposed budget, Governor Little included this line item. It also means a bump for Year 2 and Year 3 teachers so they don’t get left behind. 

This recommendation is separate from the existing career ladder we’ve implemented over the last few years. If we can make the numbers work in the budget, this change will make Idaho more competitive among our neighboring states for starting teacher pay.

All these discussions are happening against the backdrop of the new, proposed funding formula for our K-12 schools.

Changing Our School Funding Formula

The new formula switches us from allocating funds based on average attendance to enrollment. In other words, we’d like to see our education dollars follow the student because it’s no secret that education is changing. 

For some context, our funding formula hasn’t been updated since 1994. 

In 1994, almost every student ONLY attended a brick and mortar school. In 2019, online resources, dual enrollment, and other educational opportunities mean larger numbers of students spend more time out of a traditional classroom. It’s time for a change, and I’m optimistic about the direction of this new formula.

If you have questions about the proposal, feel free to reach out and I’ll be happy to get into the specifics.

A New Caucus: Energy & Technology

Finally, I wanted to share that myself, Rep. Wendy Horman, Sen. Dave Lent, and Sen. Mark Nye have formed the Energy and Technology Caucus. Our goal: to help other legislators gain a better understanding of issues related to the INL, our resources, and the role of tech, not only in private business but also in government.

For me, I see more potential legislative decisions that include a technology aspect. To set good policy, we need to understand how technology may prove critical to its success.

To kick things off this legislative session, we plan to have a few lunch-and-learns. In between sessions, we’ll arrange one or two on-site meetings for legislators, including things like a tour of the INL and the new cybersecurity facilities that will open later this year.

At the end of week three, I’m excited by the energy in the Capitol. I’m hearing smart ideas in committee hearings, and I’m seeing dedicated people serve their communities and districts. 

I’m here to serve you, so, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.