Paul Agidius, president of the State Board of Education, is kicking off a week of education budget hearings by addressing JFAC on behalf of the board. His pitch: Cuts hurt, more will hurt more, and education can help lead the state out of the recession. “It is not my job to come here and beg for money,” Agidius told legislative budget writers. “It is, however, my job to advocate for education … to help you find solutions that ensure that our agencies, colleges and board office are making absolutely best use of those precious dollars and getting the highest return possible.”
So far, higher ed in Idaho has used “aggressive revisions to operating budgets … some elimination of positions and strategic use of reserve” to cope with budget cuts, Agidius said. “However, as additional cuts and holdbacks are ordered, mandated cuts and furloughs may become necessary.” That’s why the board is looking to give college presidents more flexibility to order such moves, he said. Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, asked Agidius whether other states are furloughing tenured profesors; he responded that he doesn’t know yet what other states are doing. “We have not passed this yet,” he noted. The board will vote on the idea on Feb. 18, he said.