The public schools enroll 296,000 students: 77% White, 17% Latino, and 1% American Indian/Alaska Native, with 47% living in poverty and 5% learning English. The State spends $6,761 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” Idaho Const. art. IX, § 1.
In 1975, in Thompson v. Engelking, the Idaho Supreme Court declined to establish education as a fundamental right, as plaintiffs had requested.
In 1993, in Idaho Schools for Equal Educ. Opportunity (ISEEO I) v. Evans, the Idaho Supreme Court held that while the term “uniform” in the State constitution’s education article did not require equality of education spending, the term “thorough” did guarantee students a certain level of education.
In 1998, the Court declared, in ISEEO III, that the thoroughness mandate of the constitution requires the State to “provide a means for school districts to fund facilities that offer a safe environment conducive to learning.”
In 2005, in ISEEO V, the Court ordered the Legislature to devise a constitutional method of funding the construction, repair, and replacement of school facilities to ensure that schools offer a safe environment conducive to learning. Plaintiffs have been unsuccessful in seeking further remedial—state and federal—court orders to compel legislative action enforcing a new facilities funding system, and the Idaho Supreme Court has closed the case.