Both Senate Education Chairman John Goedde and House Education Chairman Bob Nonini had a similar message for legislative budget writers this morning: Preserve student-teacher contact time even as the state faces budget cuts in education. “The superintendent says it best - the students don’t get a second chance, they’re moving through the system,” Nonini told JFAC this morning. JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, said she appreciated the teamwork between the two chairmen, who told the budget committee they stand ready to move legislation through to allow additional flexibility at the local level to cope with budget cuts. Nonini said if budget cuts are avoided in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 through use of federal economic stimulus funds and draining the public education stabilization account, Idaho could end up with a $182 million shortfall for public schools in fiscal year 2011, if state tax revenues continue to fall. If they’re flat, it could be a $150 million shortfall, he said, and even if they pick back up a bit, “we’d still be short $88 million. We think a positive move forward would be to try to spread that out, possibly looking at some cuts in the 2010 budget.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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