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Idaho superintendent submits $1.5 million budget request for training on dyslexia

Courtesy Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — More than $1 million could be put toward training opportunities to help teachers identify and work with dyslexic students in schools across Idaho.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra proposed a $1.5 million supplemental budget request for the current fiscal year for the training. The request comes after Idaho lawmakers last session passed a bill to put into place screening, interventions and professional development to serve children with dyslexia.
“Early literacy — making sure students learn to read by third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives — remains a huge focus for my department and for districts and schools across Idaho,” Ybarra said in a news release.
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The training would begin once the supplemental request is approved by the Legislature, said Kristin Rodine, spokesperson at the State Department of Education.
The new dyslexia law, which legislators passed after the Idaho Statesman’s reporting on dyslexic students’ struggles in school, defined dyslexia and dyslexia screening tools, and laid out a phased approach for adding screening measures, interventions and professional development for teachers.
According to the bill, by the start of the 2023-2024 school year, instructional staff members and coaches who work with students in kindergarten through fifth grade will be required to have received professional development “specific to providing instruction and intervention to students with characteristics of dyslexia.” By the same year, teachers, administrators and school counselors with an instructional certificate in grades 6-12 will also need professional development on the characteristics of dyslexia.
The bill included a fiscal note of $97,000 for one full-time employee at the State Department of Education to implement the legislation and provide information and resources.
Rodine said the bill “calls for funding to implement the new requirements related to dyslexia, but no appropriation was made.”
“That’s why Superintendent Ybarra is making this supplemental request,” she said in an email to the Idaho Statesman.
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Ybarra also submitted her budget request for the 2024 fiscal year. Her proposal includes an increase of about 6.9% over last year’s appropriation for a total of about $2.5 billion from the state’s general fund.
“Idaho’s economy is strong, and the best way to ensure that it remains strong is to invest in the future of Idaho students,” Ybarra said in a statement. “With a record budget surplus, now is the perfect time.”
The budget requests $59.1 million in increased teacher pay and $18.6 million to raise the pay and staffing levels of classified staff, which includes paraprofessionals and food service workers.
Ybarra also proposed an increase in operational funding to address health insurance costs and inflation. Lawmakers last session passed a bill intended to allow school districts to buy into the state’s health insurance plan to ease insurance costs for staff members, but the funding fell short for many districts.
About $10 million would go toward professional development, according to Ybarra’s request.
“Our schools and districts have greater needs now as we address the lasting impacts of the long pandemic, including learning loss,” Ybarra said. “The students most affected are our special populations, including English language learners, special education and low-income students. Our mandate is to make sure we are serving those students well.”
Ybarra was first elected superintendent in 2014. She lost the Republican primary this year to Debbie Critchfield, the former president of the State Board of Education, so her term will end before the Legislature considers the request.
The budget requests come after followed Idaho lawmakers’ approval of a bill that set aside $410 million in sales tax revenue for education last week. Education groups and teachers called the investment a positive step to address the state’s underfunding of education.
The post Idaho superintendent submits $1.5 million budget request for training on dyslexia appeared first on East Idaho News.

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