When state schools Superintendent Tom Luna stepped to the microphone in the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee this morning after a harrowing trip in on the icy roads from Nampa, he got a laugh when he commented, “I was anticipating when I listened to the school closures, that since this was education, that maybe we’d postpone this event as well.”
First up this morning is the budget for the state Department of Education. “A lot has occurred since I stood before you a year ago,” Luna told lawmakers. He put forth a budget proposal in September, but, “A lot has changed since September, and it changed quickly.”
Still, he said, “My request for the agency budget has not changed.” It’s for $35.76 million in total funds, $8.6 million in state general tax funds. That’s a 4 percent increase in general funds, but a 22.9 percent decrease in total funds. The difference largely reflects the inclusion of $11.6 million grant funds from the Albertson Foundation in the current year’s budget. Luna is requesting spending authority for next year to spend the final $4.5 million of the Albertson grant for development of an instructional management system.
The single new position requested is for an Indian education coordinator, a position Luna committed to in 2007 and has until now funded from within his budget. Luna said five years later, after “significant budget decreases,” the department can no longer continue to fund the position from existing resources.