So far, new state schools Supt. Tom Luna has had the answers when members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee fired questions at him about his budget proposal. First, Senate Finance Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, questioned Luna about his proposal to separate funding for improving technology from remediation for students who are failing the Idaho Standards Achievement Test – a combination that Cameron engineered to force districts to choose which was more important to them. Cameron asked how much of the $9.8 million set aside for the two last year actually got spent on remediation, rather than on upgrading technology. Luna said based on the reports he’s gotten back from districts, it’s “roughly $829,000 spent on remediation. The rest was spent on technology needs.” Luna’s budget for next year proposes $9.8 million just for technology, plus another $6 million for ISAT remediation.
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, asked Luna, “What would be the most important effort that you want to pursue, and how could we support that effort?” Cameron cautioned, “Be careful what you ask for.” Luna answered, “What happens in the classroom.” He pointed to his budget proposal for a $24 million “classroom enhancement package” that includes money specifically for textbook purchases, classroom supplies, remediation for kids who are falling behind and college classes for high-performing high school juniors and seniors. “The first step in that direction is the budget I’ve presented to you today. … So I would encourage you to consider it and fund it in its entirety,” he said.