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State Board of Education amends enrollment reporting rule

Education

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The State Board of Education approved an amended rule Monday afternoon that will allow schools to be funded based on enrollment reporting rather than average daily attendance.

Monday’s move amends action the State Board took back in August that allows schools to use full time equivalency enrollment reporting to identify the amount of time a student is receiving instruction instead of the longstanding attendance based calculation.

The amendments are small. The new language approved Monday keeps most of what was approved in August in place but it adds new language to account for summer school and students who are present for less than 2.5 hours in one day.

The rule is meant to help schools address uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. Under rules for existing instructional time requirements, it adds language allowing for the “equivalent amount of instruction through an online, distance or blended learning format” to be counted. That means schools can count students who are learning remotely in the same manner as students who are present in-person.

The rule establishes 1,200 minutes or more per week (20 hours) as one full-time equivalency (FTE) in grades 1-12 and 600 minutes in kindergarten.

The rule also addresses students who split time between multiple buildings, like a traditional neighborhood school and a charter school.

The rule is important because it addresses how Idaho distributes funding for the state’s largest expense. Each year, the state spends about $2 billion on K-12 public schools.

The rule also relates to more longterm and divisive debate about whether to permanently move from an attendance-based funding model to enrollment. Following years of study, legislators proposed rewriting the state’s funding formula in 2019 and 2020, but the bills did not have the support to be passed into law.

Rules have the force of law in Idaho.

The temporary and pending rule will be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration during the upcoming 2021 session, which begins Jan. 11. If the Legislature accepts the enrollment reporting rule in its entirety, schools would be able to use enrollment reporting until the funding formula law is changed or the rule is amended.

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