Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho Education Cuts Among Deepest In The Nation

Center on Budget Policy and Priorities

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Idaho has cut per-student education spending by 19 percent in the last five years.  That’s according to a report published this week by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities.

Idaho schools have seen the fourth-largest cut among states since 2008, ranking behind Arizona, Alabama and Oklahoma.

The report points out education funding cuts have slowed since the peak of the Great Recession. Only 13 states have increased per-student spending since 2008.

CBPP says the effects of spending cuts on local communities will be wide reaching, and in some cases will “slow the pace of recovery.”

Here’s more from the report:

“Federal employment data show that school districts began reducing the overall number of teachers and other employees in July 2008, when the first round of budget cuts began taking effect. Since then, schools have been shedding jobs steadily; nationwide, schools have cut jobs in 10 of the last 12 months.  As of July 2012, local school districts had cut 328,000 jobs nationally compared with 2008. These job losses have reduced the purchasing power of workers’ families, in turn reducing overall consumption in the economy and thus extending the recession and slowing the pace of recovery.” – CBPP

These cuts have left many districts struggling to keep up.  After the Council School District lost its shop program, locals donated time, goods and services to start it up again.  Rockland residents have pitched in to paint and repair school buildings.

“Many states and school districts have undertaken important school reform initiatives to prepare children better for the future, but deep funding cuts hamper their ability to implement many of these reforms, particularly in areas like lengthening the school day and expanding early childhood education. At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, large cuts in funding for basic education threaten to undermine a crucial building block for future prosperity.” – CBPP

Idaho’s schools chief Tom Luna has said per-student funding isn’t the only measure of success.  In an interview in June, Luna said spending “is a factor, but not the most important factor.”

Today, Luna says Idaho made some difficult budget choices during the recession that have put the state in a better spot moving forward.  “Idaho, for a second year in a row, is going to see a considerable increase in the funding going to schools.  Many of the states that didn’t make those very difficult decisions early on are going to continue to cut year after year after year.”

Idaho did increase its state share of education spending during the current fiscal year, but overall school funding, which includes federal dollars, declined .07 percent, from FY 2012 to FY 2013 according to the CPBB’s report.

Luna today released his budget request for the coming fiscal year.  He’s asking lawmakers for a more than 5 percent increase in state spending on education.


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