BOISE, Id. (KMVT/KSVT) The public schools budget recommendation from the Idaho State Department of Education was submitted to the Division of Financial Management, and the Legislative Services office, Superintendent Ybarra announced today.

The fiscal year 2017 (FY17) public schools budget requests a general fund increase of 7.5% for Idaho’s public schools; A highlight includes an increase in discretionary funding, which reaches the Governor’s Task Force recommendation for restoration of operational funding, comparable to the 2009 level.

“I am very proud of the budget we submitted today; but would first like to send out a sincere “Thank you” to all of the stakeholders, legislators, Governor’s Office, and staff members who helped make this budget a true reflection of a collaborative and transparent process,” Superintendent Ybarra said. “It is a budget that recognizes local control, while increasing opportunities for all students across our great state to achieve.”

The new public schools budget meets all of the necessary statutory expenditures; but also, schools would see an increase of over 110 million dollars, with bright spots that include: An expansion of the Idaho Core Coaches Network to include Reading Coaches. An addition of an on-line portal system, districts can customize for their professional development and training offerings, such as professional development for bullying. A request of 1.2 million dollars for Mastery-Based Education opportunities, and a 2 million dollar increase in technology, to support this direction for personalized learning. This budget request also includes 5 million dollars for literacy proficiency, as well a request for 1.75 million dollars for student mentors, which will provide funding for academic, college and career advising opportunities to assist all students across Idaho with college and career readiness, through perseverance. Another bright spot in this request is for a Rural Schools Center Initiative, which will embrace “job-sharing” opportunities, as well as house various other support programs for our rural school districts, which encompass nearly 70% of the state.

Superintendent Ybarra continued by saying, “This budgeting strategy is a step in the right direction; with this approach, Idaho is being more transparent and even-handed in our budgeting process, while providing relief for districts who struggled with normal, reasonable costs of doing business, such as paying for lights, heat, and content materials for our students. Additionally, this “lump sum” growth also includes: Increases for the newly established career ladder, an increase for additional support in continuous improvement planning, as well as an increase in leadership awards that could expand mentoring opportunities for teachers.”

Moving forward, the Legislature’s Budget and Policy Analysis staff and the Division of Financial Management will be involved in further analysis of these recommendations in developing the legislative budget booklet.