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Idaho legislators introduce MSPC's Public School Transparency Act

Understanding school district budgets could become easier thanks to a bill introduced in the Idaho House Education Committee.

H 718 - brought forward by Representative Wendy Horman and Senator Lori Den Hartog - moves Idaho to a education funding model that distributes funds on a per-student basis that is calculated based on the number of students attending the school.

The legislation also introduces new transparency requirements for public school districts. The transparency language, based on MSPC's recommendation of a Public School Transparency Act, requires districts on the first page of their budgets as well as on their website, clearly report the following items:

  • The total dollar amount expended in the previous fiscal year;

  • The average dollar amount expended per student in the previous fiscal year;

  • The average yearly expenditures for the salary and benefits of administrative staff;

  • The average yearly expenditures for the salary and benefits of full-time teachers;

  • The ratio of administrative staff to teachers to students;

  • The percentage of the previous fiscal year's budget that was deposited into any reserve or savings account of such education provider

Idaho’s largest school district, the West Ada School District, has a budget that is 336 pages long and includes six different funds and 36 different programs. The budget is readily available for citizen review, but transparency doesn't mean much if it is not understandable.

This new legislation will make it easier for parents and the community to understand the budget, and compare and contrast districts across the state.

Our recent Idaho Poll showed more than 80% of citizens support the concept. In the Twin Falls area, support reaches nearly 90%.

A public hearing for H 718 is scheduled for Monday morning.

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