The proposed budget includes $62 million to fuel the third year of the so-called "career ladder" pay scale for K-12 educators, a $5 million increase for new classroom technology, a $5 million increase for more IT staffing, $2 million for college and career advising, and a $4.2 million increase for professional development. The budget also includes a 3 percent raise for administrators and classified staff, totaling $6.9 million.
Following a lengthy debate, members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee decided to nix a proposed $15.2 million line item to address growing health care costs for K-12 employees. Instead, the panel approved a plan to increase discretionary spending for school districts by nearly $16 million.
The budget now heads to the full House and Senate for their consideration before being sent to Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.
The Idaho Legislature's budget-writing committee unanimously approved a public school funding plan for Fiscal Year 2018, totaling nearly $1.7 billion in general fund dollars and representing a 6.3 percent year-to-year increase. Pegged at $100 million above current spending levels, in total funds, the spending plan is more than $2 billion.