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Idaho's K-12 state allocation is up 106% in past decade

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

How much education spending will be enough? It's a fair question to ask, especially following last week's conclusion of the 2023 Idaho Legislative session. The session featured yet another double-digit increase in K-12 spending in Idaho. The public school support budget increased another 16.4%.

Our Idaho Poll conducted late last year showed strong support for K-12 education spending. But the vast majority of Idahoans likely don't know how much we're actually spending - and how much it has increased.

The most recent approved budget in Idaho hikes K-12 funding to $2.698 billion. The most recent enrollment numbers now show 289,480 students in Idaho's K-12 system. This means the state general fund allocation alone is increasing to $9,323 per student. That number does not include any local or federal funding, which accounts for much more.

Ten years ago, Idaho was spending $1.3 billion. Over the past decade, K-12 state spending has ballooned 106.2%.

Accepting a 106% increase would be easier if outcomes were also improving. So far, however, they have been stagnant.

In a previous publication, we asked what amount will be sufficient and how will we know when we are spending enough? Unfortunately, these questions are never answered.

There is little correlation between education spending and achievement. If spending were the key, the United States would have the best schools in the world, as the U.S. spends more than any other developed nation.

It’s no longer good enough to simply say all problems would be solved if only the system had more money. States that spend the most don’t necessarily have the best outcomes, and states that spend the least don’t have the worst outcomes.

The number one priority of any plan to increase education funding should be student outcomes. What is the measurement whereby we can determine if these increases will help children? What are the goals?

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