The Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2012 public schools budget late this afternoon following almost no debate. The vote was 27-7. Senate Bill 1206, originating last week in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, now goes to the House. It would set the state public education budget at $1.56 billion, including $1.224 billion in state general funds.
The general fund allocation represents a nearly $200 million drop from the FY 2009 budget, when Idaho’s K-12 schools received $1.418 billion from general funds. Given cuts of $69 million in FY10, $128 million in FY11, and $47 million for FY12, total cuts to Idaho K-12 school funding now total $244 million, or nearly a quarter-billion dollars over the past three years. These deep cuts have been cushioned by one-time money from sources including the Land Board, the public schools stabilization fund, and federal funding, but these will not be ongoing sources of revenue.
If approved, the JFAC budget would reduce the money the state sends to school districts to pay for administrator, teacher, and ESP salaries by 1.87 percent. Discretionary funding per classroom would drop by 10 percent from this year's level, meaning a nearly 25 percent drop over the past two years.