Monday, March 28, 2011

JFAC Sets Public Schools Budget

The Idaho Legislature’s budget-setting committee today approved a 1.3 percent reduction for K-12 public schools next fiscal year.

“No one is pleased with having to reduce funding for Idaho’s schools a third year in a row, but considering the much deeper cuts that were anticipated at the beginning of January, I must give credit to Idaho’s legislators and the Governor for working with me on this budget,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “We have continued to put students first by working to preserve funding for Idaho schools in this tough economic time and to reform our public education system so we can educate more students at a higher level with limited resources.”

To do this, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Superintendent Luna put forward the Students Come First plan, a comprehensive way for the state to spend the money it currently has differently. Two of the three bills in the Students Come First plan have been signed into law. Senate Bill 1184 has been approved by the Senate and is on its way to the House.

The FY2012 public schools budget approved in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) today reflects the beginning of these education reforms in Idaho. Here are highlights of the budget:
  • Salaries and benefits: The budget will decrease the money the state sends to districts and public charter schools for teacher, administrator and classified staff salaries by 1.67 percent. The budget does provide funding to increase the minimum teacher pay to $30,000 a year and to restore education credits and fund one year of experience on the salary grid for teachers, which has been frozen the past two years.
  • Dual credit for high school students: The budget includes $850,000 for high school students to take dual credit courses if they have completed state graduation requirements.
  • New high school graduation requirements: The budget includes $5.8 million to fund the new high school graduation requirements for the Class of 2013. Under these new requirements, students must take three years of math and three years of science as well as complete a college entrance exam, such as the ACT or SAT.  
  • Classroom technology: The budget provides more than $13 million to give Idaho teachers the tools they need in the classroom. Of this funding, $10 million will go toward instructional technology in the classroom and $3 million for professional development.
  • Idaho Math Initiative, Idaho Reading Initiative, and ISAT Remediation: The budget maintains level funding for these key initiatives at $9.4 million.
The fiscal year 2012 budget begins July 1, 2011. The appropriations bill approved in JFAC today now goes to the full House and Senate for approval.

~ Melissa M.

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