BOISE, Idaho – Every year, as with other organizations and agencies, the Idaho Department of Education prioritizes its budget for upcoming years.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra says some of her top priorities in the 2021 budget request for Idaho public schools include teacher pay, social-emotional learning, mastery expansion and literacy.

“This budget request continues our emphasis on improving teacher compensation, enhancing student safety and wellbeing, and creating innovative, individualized ways to help students meet their potential and find success in academics and beyond,” Ybarra said in a statement on Tuesday. “Education stakeholders and Idaho families share those priorities, and they also match up well with Gov. Brad Little’s objectives to improve K-12 education in this state.”

She said she is asking for a total or around $1.99 billion, pocket change by no means and a 5.3 percent increase over the current year’s general fund appropriation.

“That increase amounts to a little more than $100 million, and the Legislature has increased education funding by at least $100 million every year since I became superintendent,” she continued. “I look forward to presenting my case to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee early next year.”

Line items in the budget include $40 million to extend the career ladder to improve pay for Idaho’s veteran teachers; $1 million to develop and implement training for Idaho educators in social-emotional learning to help teachers and school staff recognize and respond to students’ emotional needs; $500,000 to continue expanding mastery-based education in Idaho, boosting the funding from $1.4 million to $1.9 million; and $3.16 million to continue funding literacy intervention programs.

“This effort, spearheaded by Gov. Little, is an essential part of our push to help young Idahoans learn to read so they can read to learn,” Ybarra said. “Having a one-time influx of dedicated funds was wonderful, but we need to make it permanent, providing district literacy intervention programs financial stability year after year and making it possible to evaluate the programs’ success.”