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Making the Grade: Idaho public education facing huge budget cuts

Posted at 1:44 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 19:17:42-04

Governor Little is looking to cut $99 million from public education next year. Back in March, the Governor asked state agencies to brace for a five percent budget reduction because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, schools will face the same burden. This translates to a loss of close to $100 million for Kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

"The April revenue figures are down significantly from what was projected before the coronavirus outbreak," said Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. "A huge drop off in tax collections between income taxes and sales taxes. That's the crux of where the state gets its money for education. It comes from sales taxes, and when those tax collections are down, well guess what you are going to have to cut the education budget. Now how much they'll have to cut? How bad is the revenue drop off? We still don't know that yet."

Some of the line items in the Governor's plan, including freezing teacher salaries on the state's career ladder and suspending raises for administrators and classified staff. Little says his goal is to ensure budget reductions are implemented in the least disruptive way for students and educators.

Idaho public schools will receive $43 million in federal funding from the CARES Act.

The five percent state budget cut is also affecting Idaho's colleges and universities. The University of Idaho is now considering three days of mandatory furlough for all employees and those making higher salaries would be required to take more days.

As we have reported, Boise State has already implemented furloughs and will no longer offer contracts to salaried employees. The cuts could run deeper for higher education if enrollment drops this fall.