Idaho Looking for Ways to Cut Spending

Last Updated: November 29, 2009

This article appeared in the November 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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State leaders in Idaho are searching for ways to deal with a statewide budget shortfall of $151 million and still meet the needs of schools. Despite stimulus funding and “holdbacks,” the state designation for mid-year budget cuts, the budget is still approximately $50 million short. The state has already tapped its rainy day stabilization fund.
Under Idaho state law, districts cannot cut teacher pay or hours from the previous school year unless they declare a state of financial emergency, which about 20% of the 115 districts have done.
Some districts have been able to qualify for additional federal funding under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act as a result of a 30% increase statewide in the number of students experiencing homelessness.
Despite the bleak outlook, education and state leadership remain strongly opposed to school consolidation as a cost-saving consideration. Legislators and administrators alike cite the school as the economic, social and cultural center of many communities and note that small districts are often able to achieve higher levels of student achievement than larger ones.
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Read more from the November 2009 Rural Policy Matters.