Wednesday, July 3, 2019


We wrote a few weeks ago about the issues with using a standardized test like the SBAC to evaluate the academic progress we make with our students how a gain of a percentage point or two with proficiency rates tells us nothing about what our kids are learning. In fact, it was only last year that few if any of the SBAC consortium states made any gains at all! In state after state, reports of nonexistent student growth provided cause for concern. The reality is that SBAC scores are reflective of poverty and other community factors as much as anything, and can be predicted without giving the test in some cases.

So, is there a way to accurately reflect growth in student performance that will show us whether students have learned the content they have have been taught?

Summary Data

Fortunately, the answer is unequivocally YES, if we measure what is being taught in our classrooms by our teachers to our students. We did that with pre-post assessments in our United States History 11 course during the second semester of the 2018-19 school year. 

In the second semester pre-test, 140 of 188 students (74%) scored less than 50%, while only 5 scored greater than 70%. Clearly, then, most students did not have a good handle on the content of the second semester - and that's what we would expect. 

On the post-test, however, the results were almost completely the reverse. 140 students  (74%) answered 70% or more of the test questions correctly, while only 7% (12 students) correctly answered fewer than 50% of the questions. That's pretty impressive, and evidence that our teachers are doing a great job teaching the content and their students. 

Individual Items/Concepts

But let's look more closely at some examples of content that is crucial to understanding the history of our country, and how our students did on questions measuring that knowledge.

Here's Question 26 from the test.

Kind of an important concept for kids to understand, right? So important, in fact, that "McCarthyism" and "Red Scare" are widely understood as critical markers in the history of our country.

Back in January, however, few of our U.S. History students knew about the Wisconsin Senator and his campaign against "suspected" Communists:

In fact, as many students thought McCarthy probably helped the Soviets (choices A and B) as thought he was "red-baiting"(choice C).

In May on the post-test, students demonstrated their knowledge convincingly.

Here is another example of student progress on the End of Course U.S. History assessment:

In January, 38% of students answered the Watergate questions correctly. By May, the percentage of correct answers was 81. Almost as many students thought that "checks and balances" were a casualty of the Watergate scandal - certainly that system suffered, but public confidence was forever changed.

One of the advantages for teachers of giving a pre-post test and seeing the results in an item analysis is that they can see where gaps in student learning exist. For example, this question:

On the pre-test, 32% of students correctly identified "C" as the answer to question 27, and student, 30% chose "B", and 20% each chose the other options.

On the post-test, 61% of students chose the correct answer, so double the percentage in January, but still relatively low. And 20% still identified "B" as the correct answer, giving teachers an opportunity for instruction about the era of the fifties in the future.

All in all, the pre-post testing opportunity provides us with evidence of the progress our students make during a semester or a year, and gives our teachers opportunities for instructional improvement. In some cases, it may also indicate that particular questions should be tweaked or rewritten.

It's vitally important to know how we are doing with content we are actually teaching to our students. This EOC assessment process is much more informative than the "mystery testing" we do with the SBAC, and more on target with instruction (and covers more instructional areas) than the SAT, though the SAT with its item analysis provides some valuable information about comparative student performance on math and language arts concepts.

The Boise District intends to expand its pre-post testing in the next few years. Stay tuned for posts about the progress we are making.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


The Boise District's AVID program has a record of success that now extends over a decade. Here is an AVID update summarizing progress through the 2018-19 school year.

As you probably know as a reader of this blog, AVID is a program devoted to students from the "forgotten middle" - those kids who likely would not study at the post-secondary level without some sort of assistance. The AVID program provides that assistance through:
  1. Identification of prospective AVID students in 6th grade or earlier.
  2. Enrollment of those students in a "required AVID elective" beginning in 7th grade, which emphasizes:
    • development of study and note-taking skills
    • content knowledge assistance through tutorials
    • growth in the value of "Going On" to post-secondary studies
  3. Enrollment in Accelerated Math and Reading classes beginning in 7th grade
  4. In high school, enrollment in at least one Advanced Placement course
  5. Visits to a variety of post-secondary institutions during high school years
and many other activities devoted to increasing readiness for post-secondary enrollment.


Enrollment in the Boise District AVID program continues to grow.

In 2007-08, the second year of the AVID program, about 2% of District 7-12 graders were enrolled in AVID. As of 2018-19, over 11% of Boise District secondary students are enrolled.

Direct College Entry (Fall after Graduation)

Though money for college continues to be an issue for most Idaho students, AVID graduates have searched for all available scholarships, with the help of Career Counselors at the high schools, and have visited many campuses as they prepare to enter post-secondary studies.

As you can see, in terms of college enrollment the semester after high school graduation, our AVID students far exceed the state average.The Boise District average for these years hovers around sixty percent, so these students attend college at a far higher rate than District students, as well.

College Choices - Direct Enrollment

Since money is such an issue for our AVID kids, most attend in-state colleges, and the most popular destination is Boise State University.

Seventy percent of Boise District AVID students enrolled at BSU (36%-163 students), the University of Idaho (16%-71), or the College of Western Idaho (18%-84 ). The two other public colleges that attract the most AVID students are Lewis Clark State College (3%-13 students) and Idaho State University (4%-18). The College of Idaho (4%-17) is an attractive affordable private college that is also popular among AVID students.

The other 20% of AVID college attendees enrolled at a variety of colleges around the country. Notably, students have enrolled at Northwest Nazarene University (6), Washington State University (4), the University of Southern California (2), Baylor University in Texas (2), Northern Arizona University (2), Pepperdine University (1), and the University of Utah (2).

College Degrees and Certificates

It's typically taking 5 or 6 years for AVID students (and other college students) to graduate from college, but that's understandable considering that 6-year grad rates for some Idaho colleges are fairly low. For example, the College of Idaho (61%) and University of Idaho (56%) have relatively high 6-year grad rates, Boise State University has made dramatic improvement in its rates, and stands at 42%, but Idaho State University and Lewis Clark State College are at 29%.

Among the 57 Bachelor's degrees earned by AVID students, 19 were in the Liberal Arts, and  11 each were in the fields of Business and STEM.

It's exciting to see the progress that our AVID students are making. We expect that in our next report, over 100 degrees and certificates will have been awarded, as classes advance in college toward a degree or certificate.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


In the 1980's and 1990's, southeast Boise became the hub of growth in our city, and the former dairy and lumber center became subdivisions with names like Lakewood, Spring Meadow, River Run, and Columbia Village. 

As the growth continued, the original southeast Boise elementary schools, Campus (constructed 1953, sold to Boise State in 1990) and Garfield (1927) became overcrowded. 

Campus School at Boise State                             Garfield School, Boise Avenue and Broadway

Liberty School, just off Bergeson Street on Law, opened in 1984, and almost immediately was at capacity. By 1990, when White Pine Elementary opened, Liberty hosted over 1,000 southeast Boise students.

Liberty School

The architecture of Liberty was copied with minor revisions for a number of new schools built in the late twentieth century, including White Pine, and Cynthia Mann (1990). Riverside, (1992) and Horizon (1992).

As growth in the area continued to accelerate, Les Bois Junior High School was built in 1994 on the same plot of land as White Pine, and then converted into Timberline High School four years later, with a new Les Bois constructed in the Columbia Village subdivision near Micron Technology. The District also opened Trail Wind Elementary nearby in 1998, as the District's student enrollment crested 27,000 students for the first (and only, to this date) time.

Les Bois JH In Columbia Village                       Timberline HS (former  Les Bois JH) on Boise Ave

Elementary Schools

And then, as quickly as it grew, the District's student population began to decline, as significant numbers of Boise patrons moved west, to Meridian initially, and then to Kuna, Nampa, and Caldwell.

Southeast Boise's schools were among the most impacted in the District, and Liberty, White Pine, and Riverside, which were overflowing with enrollment just a few years earlier, were under-enrolled by the mid 2000's. Since then, enrollment at Liberty and White Pine has stabilized and grown a bit, and Riverside's enrollment is moving back toward its high point, as residential construction in Harris Ranch has taken off.

Junior High Schools

After a successful 2007 bond issue and a land deal with BSU, East Junior High was torn down and replaced by a new East in 2009.

Former East JH (1953) on Warm Springs.                    New East JH (2009) in Harris Ranch area

You can see the same enrollment pattern a few years later at Les Bois,

and at East.

As you can see, enrollment has recovered at both junior highs, after steep declines in the first decade of the new millennium. Projections show that southeast Boise junior high enrolment will likely stabilize in the next few years.

Timberline High School

The new wing opened this fall at Timberline has been put to good use, and Timberline's enrollment is still growing.

Timberline's enrollment is projected to grow to almost 1,500 students in the next few years, as the next few classes from East and Les Bois enter the school. 

Just a few years ago, Timberline and Meridian were the smallest 5A schools in the Southern Idaho Conference. Since then, enrollment at both schools has grown substantially, Skyview has become a 5A school, and Capital's enrollment has declined slightly.

Rocky Mountain and Mountain View in the West Ada District remain the largest schools in the conference, and even with the addition of the new Owyhee High School in a few years, West Ada's continued growth will assure large 5A schools.

As an aside, Skyview's status as a 5A school is interesting. There are now 3 4A schools that are larger than Skyview: Kuna (1176), Caldwell (1085), and Nampa (1078). While Skyview has seen some growth in the past few years, so have Caldwell and Kuna, and Vallivue, Ridgevue, and Middleton (all 4A schools) are growing rapidly as well.

Timberline's growth will put the school in the middle of the SIC pack in a couple of years, and could mean that the high school will become the largest of Boise's high schools.

The challenge for Boise District administrators and trustees will be planning for the anticipated growth in south Boise east of Cole Road, along the east Lake Hazel Road extension to Orchard Street, which could feature as many as 2,000 family residences in the next few years. 

For this post, we used 10-12 enrollment, since that's the configuration of Boise's high schools. The other SIC high schools are 9-12. The Idaho High School Activities Association uses 9-12 enrollment for classification purposes.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


As the debate over the proposed funding formula reaches a crescendo, we believe the time has come to delay a decision until all of the remaining areas of concern can be addressed.

At a meeting of Southern Idaho Conference Superintendents last week, we developed a list of those remaining issues. It's a substantial record that includes some of the most important features of the proposal. These concerns relate to the most recent of the myriad versions of the bill, Senate Bill 1196, and the associated spreadsheet.

However, we feel that, before detailing the concerns, we need to thank the committee that put together the proposal. The members sought to address complex issues in education through weighting students, and that effort was admirable. In the end, though, the proposed formula sought to address other issues identified during the process that were never part of the initial discussions. Those concepts, like the wealth adjustment and the large district weight, were viewed by many as counter to the equity goal of the committee, and took a great deal of discussion that could have been devoted to other elements that still have not been adequately addressed, in our opinion.

Here are several of the biggest issues we identified.


The first two versions of the formula spreadsheet compared "apples to apples", by using 2017-18 data for both sides of the formula equation. Afterward, despite concerns expressed by State Department of Education officials and district Business Managers, the data presented were from 2017-18 for the old formula and 2018-19 for the new, with varying amounts of funding added to the new formula side of the equation.

In order to understand the reasons why the sides have to be equal, here are a couple of quotes from the Business Managers of two districts.

"In order to measure the effect of the formula on your school district, you need to compare the revenue generated under the old formula at a particular point in time with the revenue from the new formula at the same time. That’s the only way to determine if you are truly a winner or loser." Nancy Landon, CFO, Boise District

"While our district appreciates the extremely hard work of so many individuals over the last 3 1/2 years, there continues to be an inherent problem with the data used in the highly circulated excel spreadsheet that our legislators are relying upon for much of their upcoming decision making. We beseech the key state players to demand an apples to apples financial data comparison before any further legislative deliberations transpire. In the absence of this action, our legislators will be casting pivotal public policy votes based upon fraught data." Lisa Hals, CFO, Lake Pend O'reille District

We'd add to Lisa's statement that many Superintendents and Business Managers do not know where their districts stand. Here's an example of how different the data are, considering the two comparisons:

Here is the "apples to apples" version of the spreadsheet. To be sure, for some districts, the losses are smaller without the wealth adjustment, and that is a good thing. We know that, in building a new formula and starting from scratch, we will have winners and losers. However, it's important that legislators know where their districts stand at the time when the new formula is implemented.

For example, the spreadsheet that goes with the newest bill shows the Coeur d'Alene District gaining $3.9 million (7%), and Coeur d'Alene Charter gaining $200 thousand (4%). In an apples to apples comparison, they both lose. CDA District loses $560 thousand (1%), and CDA Charter loses $152 thousand (3%). Those aren't huge losses, but the totals are a lot different than are portrayed on the newest committee spreadsheet.


We certainly are in favor of equitable funding for districts and charters. But with the wealth factor zeroed out in the spreadsheet, an apples to apples comparisons shows some steep funding inequities among districts and charters that exist in those districts under the proposed formula. This is a result of applying the "Small District" factor to charters, and, for example, treating Hagerman District in the Twin Falls area the same as Rolling Hills Charter in Boise. 

Keep in mind that, in each case, the district cited has a higher percentage of Free/Reduced lunch, Special Ed, and Limited English kids.

In a few cases, the free/reduced lunch percentage nearly matches that of the district (Heritage Charter in Caldwell,  STEM Charter in Lakeland, Taylor's Crossing in IF). But the FRL and LEP percentages are typically lower, as are many of the Special Ed percentages. 

So since Charters were already funded statewide at a higher level than districts, the increased gap under the new formula is very concerning.

Demographic information are from a 2017 State Department of Education spreadsheet. NA means that there were  too few students to report in the category.


This is an issue that was attended to in Chairman Clow's bill, which never got out of committee on the House side, even though he and others had worked with the stakeholders to address many issues. We need to identify the percentage of Salary and Benefit moneys in the formula, so we can annually address possible increases in teacher salary allocations. This is a crucial area for the stakeholders.


This is the old "Wealth Adjustment" by another name. Though it has been zeroed out in the spreadsheet, the language addressing it is still in the new bill, That language should be stricken from the law.


Again, the "stakeholder bill" that was defeated in House Ed included an index from compensating districts for teachers with more experience. In order to encourage districts retain teachers, this provision is very important.


There is no provision for funding alternative schools in the new bill, seemingly at the behest of the ECS representative who advised the committee. Though there may be a need for a tweak or two to the funding mechanism for these schools, the funding should not just go away. Alternative schools graduate students who otherwise would have long odds for success in school. This is another very important area in the formula.


There are numerous other issues, such a the looming cliff for districts after the "hold harmless" provision ends, the questionable accuracy of much of the data in the spreadsheet being used to inform districts and legislators, the confusing nature of the language regarding the "Career Ladder" at the local level, and others.

However, these issues are enough, we think, for the decision on the funding formula  to be delayed. This is a discussion about the largest portion of the state budget -- let's take our time and address the issues of concern, whether it's done in a task force or with a group of stakeholders who can address the key issues.

Friday, March 1, 2019


Recently, Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert wrote an article about Advanced Placement performance in the state of Idaho. His lead: 

"Idaho high school students can take Advanced Placement tests on the taxpayer’s dime — but Idaho’s AP numbers still remain well below the national average."

Advanced Placement Participation, Passing Percentages

Well, an analysis of 2018 statewide AP passing percentages tells a different story - Idaho's percentage of passing exams is just a tiny bit higher than the national average. And Idaho's and Boise's number of participants in AP testing is up substantially over the past few years.

Here's a summary of how the top AP  2018 participation percentages and passing rates compared for Idaho high schools with more than 75 participants. Remember that we use 10-12 enrollment to gauge AP participation rates.

These participation percentages were derived by dividing the number of 2018 AP participants by the combined enrollment in grades 10, 11, and 12. It's interesting to consider the derived percentages in comparison with the statewide percentage, which is 11%. So the efforts that these high schools have made in providing opportunities for rigor are impressive.

The Idaho pass rate for Advanced Placement exams in 2018 was 59%. However, since only 11% of students statewide took an AP exam, you'd expect the percentage to be high compared with some of these schools, in which at least 25% of the students in the high schools were participants in the testing program. Nationally, the passing percentage was 58%. Advanced Placement exams are rigorous and challenging - only 6 of 10 student exams receive a score eligible for college credit, as opposed to other programs in which students receive credit based on a course grade.

Outside of the top ten, other high schools with over 20% AP participation were Centennial (West Ada) at 23%, Lewiston (22%), Sandpoint (22%), Moscow (21%), and Rocky Mountain (West Ada), 20%.

Most Popular AP Exams

As you might expect, since Boise students took 34% of the statewide AP exams, when we look at individual exams, our students took the lion's share in many cases. It's interesting to look at the relative strengths and weaknesses on some of the exams.

Boise students' pass rates exceeded those of the state of Idaho and the nation by at least 5% on English Language, Psychology, and World History, and exceeded both in Calculus AB and US History. On the English Literature, Physics 1, Statistics, and US Government exams, Boise students' pass rates were about the same as the state, or a bit lower. 

Boise and Idaho pass rates were more than 15 percent higher than the nation on the Physics 1 exam, and more than 10 percent higher on English Language and English Literature exams. Interestingly, both were almost 10 percent lower on the Statistics exam.

As you can see from the chart above, Boise students took over a third of state AP exams in 2018. The highest percentage of state exams taken by District students were in Psychology (56%) , World History (43%) and Calculus AB (35%).

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Update - Misinformation shared with some legislators yesterday, February 7, 2019, at the "listening" session indicated that the IASA survey results were "old" and outdated. Actually, the survey questions were sent out on January 7, 2019, responses were finalized on January 11, and Superintendents received the results on January 15. This is the only funding formula survey conducted by the IASA in 2018-19.


To many observing the funding formula debate, confusion reigns. We have now seen eight versions of the formula, legislation that calls for "hold positive" temporary increases, comparisons of different funding years, adjustments for everything from student demographics to rural schools to charters, wealth adjustments, teacher experience factors, and so on. It's no wonder that observers have little or no idea what is going on.

One idea that would simplify the conversation would be to remove the Career Ladder monies and the Salary-Based Apportionment legislation from the proposed funding formula. In the versions proposed by the Funding Formula Committee, those funds are included and the legislation is imposed on districts and charters, effectively creating a new bureaucratic system at the local level.

But what do Superintendents think? Some legislators and others are saying that our district leaders are divided. 

Fortunately, the Idaho School Superintendent's Association did a poll recently, and asked this question:

"(Should we put) salary-based apportionment in the funding formula?"

The answer choices for the question were not clearly stated, but here's how they came out:

Of the 81 respondents, 62 said they were "concerned" about putting SBA into the formula. Only 11 indicated that they supported doing so. Another 7 said they were not knowledgeable enough to know or were neutral. When you factor those responses out, fully 85% of respondents had concerns.

Well, what does that mean, exactly? The comments following the responses go a long way toward answering that question. Here are a few:

"Don't want to lose the career ladder.  Want salary based apportionment separate from the funding formula."

"There needs to be some way of having districts be on as level playing field as possible when it comes to base teacher salaries. The Career Ladder does an excellent job of creating that level playing field. If it goes away smaller/more cash strapped districts will really struggle to keep up and find it even harder to hire good teachers because their salaries will be much less. It has been nice having the Career Ladder in regards to negotiations with teachers unions as well. Having that pot of money in a separate category that is visible and easily understood  has helped negotiations go a lot smoother. "

"This is a terrible idea for reasons that should be obvious, but apparently are not."

"We would support salary based apportionment NOT in the funding formula.   There are multiple unintended consequences including challenges at the negotiations table, challenges to local control, and an erosion of the progress we have made under the career ladder funding."

"Please take it out so that it does not become part of the lump sum.  I am strongly against having this be part of the new formula. "

"Deal breaker in my mind - needs to be outside the new formula."


So, the vast majority of Superintendents expressed the desire to keep the Career Ladder and Salary-Based Apportionment. With that in mind, we should keep the current law in place, and the money separate. Keep the statewide accountability system associated with the Career Ladder in place. Maintain the function of Salary-Based Apportionment as a distribution method for salaries and benefits.


When Salary-Based Apportionment funds are taken out of the total package, $466.5 million remains, as you can see if you follow this link to the spreadsheet (comparing "apples to apples" 17-18 actual funding with 17-18 new formula funding). In our view, we should use the student demographic factors (Poverty, Limited English, Gifted/Talented, Special Education, K-3, and 9-12) to drive the distribution of these funds, and truly have the money follow the students. 

The draft legislation phases in these factors over time. For example:

  1. Poverty, as represented by free/reduced lunch,  starts out in 2020-21 as a 10% factor  (i.e.. FRL students count as 1.1), and increases to .2 in 2021-22, and to 25 in 2022-23. 
  2. Limited English starts at .1 in 2020, and moves to .2 in 2021-22, .3 in 2022-23, and .35 in 2023-24.
  3. Special Education students receive a .65 weight in 2020-21, .75 in 2021-22, .85 in 2022-23, .95 in 2023-24, and 1.0  in 2024-25.
  4. Gifted/Talented students are funded at a base level of 2% for each district.
  5. K-3 and 9-12 receive a 10% increment because of educational considerations at those levels.
Using this format, districts with higher percentages of students in the demographic categories receive more money for services, as is appropriate, but districts with fewer of these students do not suffer huge losses in funding.

In this recommendation, many charters lose funding, because they are not nearly as diverse as their neighboring public schools. These schools would be eligible for "hold harmless" funds provided in the draft legislation for three years, under this provision in the law:

We believe that this recommendation is sensible, and provides for reasonable, deliberate funding shifts to reflect demography of public schools in the state. We appreciate the work on the Funding Formula Committee, and believe that their considerable work provides the foundation for a stronger formula going forward. In fact, this would serve as a basis for conversations within the structure of Governor Little's new K-12 Education Task Force.

Monday, February 4, 2019


One of the many elements of the new proposed funding formula is the so-called "wealth adjustment".  If the "money should follow the kids", as several formula committee members have opined, then this factor SHOULD NOT be a part of the k-12 funding formula. This is not a student-based factor - instead, it's an adjustment based on the property value in the district divided by the district's enrollment.

Here are several reasons that this factor needs to disappear:

We Already have a Factor Dedicated to Poverty

The "wealth factor" factor is not a proxy for free/reduced lunch rates, which are a legitimate weighting factor. In fact, as we referenced in our first series of blogs on this topic, districts with similar free/reduced lunch percentages may have wildly different market value assessments. A great example is the comparison between Coeur d'Alene and Bonneville.

In this case, the money does not follow the kids. It follows the market value. The Coeur d'Alene District has proportionally as many free/reduced students as does Bonneville. 

The Wealth Adjustment Penalizes School Districts with Robust Economies

The Spreadsheet Data

  • The values used in the funding formula spreadsheet by the consultant from the Education Commission of the States were old. In fact, the consultant used Market Value data from 2016-17 and enrollment data from 2017-18! Here is the story those data tell.

As we noted previously, the idea of the "wealth adjustment" is that districts that are below the state average (<1.0) get the adjustment and those that are above do not. The lower the  ratio compared to the state, the more the adjustment. 

So Boise (1.53), CDA (1.62), LPO (3.55), McCall (5.57), and Teton (1.93) were well above the state average and would not receive the adjustment. Conversely, Bonneville (0.45), Poky (0.41), and Cassia Cty (0.47) are well below the average. West Ada (0.94) and Post Falls (0.94) were just below the average.

The New Data (from the State Department of Education)

But what happens when you update the model with new data? Luckily, the Idaho SDE provided us with updates to market value and enrollment for the 18-19 school year so we could see how things changed.

Though there are some other changes that we will mention a little later, the major difference here is that West Ada's market value has changed dramatically since 2016, and, using 2018-19 market value, the district no longer receives the "wealth adjustment", and goes from an overall loss of $809k to a loss of $9.4 million.  Post Falls stayed just under the state average, and so maintained its wealth adjustment.

So, if West Ada is affected just by using current data, what do the trends say about what might happen to the "wealth adjustment" for other districts whose market value is growing. 

The Trend Data

We had access to the Market Values for 2016 and 2018, and so looked at the trend data for the districts we used in the comparisons above. Understand that the trend analysis we have done is quite simplistic and assumes no major glitches in the economy (which there surely will be).

The statewide market value has grown by 19% since 2016. Districts that have had more growth than the state are either moving toward the state average or moving farther above it.

Almost every Treasure Valley district is growing at a faster rate than is the state, led by Vallivue, which is followed by West Ada, Boise, Kuna, and Nampa. In the north, market value growth in CDA, Lakeland, and Post Falls is outpacing the state, as it is in the Twin Falls District in south-central Idaho. In other words, at current rates of growth, the fast-growing districts will likely lose the "wealth adjustment" at some point.

School Districts have Limited Options in Dealing with the Revenue Losses

Districts that lose funding in the new model will be "held positive" for several years;  they will gain at least 2% in each of those years, according to the newest version of the legislation. But after that, all bets are off. Legislators have intimated that there will be increased funding, but with other pressing priorities, we really can't be sure what the future will hold. 

As a matter of course, District leaders can prepare for the "cliff" that will come with decreased funding by:

  • shortening the school year/day
  • cutting staff
  • asking taxpayers to pick up the lost revenue
Shortening the school day and year have not worked in the districts that have tried these "solutions" in Idaho, and they've not saved the money they thought they would.

Of course, almost all of the districts that are "losers" in this formula already have levies; charters that lose have no way to recoup their losses, other than to appeal directly to their patrons. 

For districts, it's a matter of planning for how to deal with the loss. Lewiston, for example, already has a $15 million levy. Coeur d'Alene has $16 million, Lakeland has $9 million, Teton $3.4 million, West Ada $14 million.

For large, successful charters like Sage (5% cut), Coeur d'Alene (9%), North Star (4%), Meridian Medical (7%), Meridian Technical (9%) Charters, the prospects would be bleak.

Could West Ada up their levy request by $9.5 million to keep from cutting 180 teachers and maintain  class size? For CDA it would be 50 teachers and an increase of $2.5 million. Maybe so, but it's a tough sell when districts increase their requests to offset monies sent to other parts of the state. 

Moving Forward

The "wealth adjustment" will make budget-setting unpredictable for many school districts, and make for a volatile funding atmosphere. We believe that it should be eliminated from the proposed formula. In fact, in our next post, we will recommend going back to the original intent of the new formula, and eliminating all but the weights that provide for money following the students.

New Spreadsheet (Again)

A new spreadsheet (version 9?) was posted to the Interim Committee website yesterday (February 1). Once again, the committee leadership has insisted on comparing apples to oranges in their projection of the effects of the formula, by comparing 17-18 old formula monies with 18-19 new formula monies. And once again we have provided those who want to see a fair comparison with data comparing 17-18 old formula with 17-18 new formula. The 17-18 vs. 18-19 version denotes 45 losers; the "apples to apples" 17-18 vs. 17-18 version shows that the true number is 72, just under half of the charters and districts in the state.