Hals details ed-related legislation

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SANDPOINT — During last week’s Lake Pend Oreille School District meeting, chief financial and operations officer Lisa Hals had two things to report, both on education-related bills in the Legislature.

The first was House Bill 293 regarding the state’s public school funding formula, which at the time was on the governor’s desk and has since been signed into law. Hals said it is described as a “definitions bill” by Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle, who co-sponsored the bill.

“That means that what was debated throughout the session on a proposed change to the K-12 funding formula, where they would have a base amount for students and then weigh different types of students, this bill defines those different types of students,” Hals said.

It also adds requirements for Idaho public school districts to report enrollment numbers on the different categories of weighted students in October and December of this year, as well as changing requirements for how the districts report spending to the state, she said.

The reason the bill was introduced, Hals said, is because in a proposed draft legislation for a new K-12 funding formula early in the session, there was an outpouring of stakeholder input that it did not have the correct data.

“We expressed that concern loudly and clearly, and the Legislature has heard that,” Hals said.

The other bill Hals updated the board on was Senate Bill 1061, which would have changed the rules for districts seeking permanent supplemental levies if it had been signed into law. The bill proposed replacing the permanent supplemental override option, though districts with permanent overrides currently would be grandfathered. In its place, school districts that have passed a levy for a minimum of seven consecutive years would have been able to place a measure on the ballot to extend the levy for three to 10 years. They would still have the option to run one- or two-year levies as well.

The bill passed through the House floor on April 1 and an amendment was introduced, Hals said. The amendment “basically” said that if the levy rate increased by more than 2 percent over two years, the district would have to go back out to voters mid-cycle for approval, Hals said.

“As the days last week clicked by and having discussions with various senators, the chair of Senate ed pulled the bill back,” Hals said. “It’s dead, which means that current law, at least for one more year, holds.”

Of the 114 school districts in the state, 91 have a supplemental levy in place, Hals said, totaling more than $200 million this year. LPOSD is in its 19th year of having a supplemental levy in place. While the district has met the criteria for a permanent override for the last 10 years, board members have opted not to go out to voters for such a request.

“Something, probably, of the nature Sen. Thayn originally introduced may be brought to the Legislature next year,” Hals said.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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