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Public Statements

Issue Position: Public School Funding

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

"There has never been a time in education when I have served at the local, state and national level, where I've said, "Take this money, we can't find a way to spend it.' The fact is every educational dollar is precious. During my time as Superintendent, I've worked with the Legislature and the Governor to target dollars where they are needed most: the classroom."

As the state's leader in education, Superintendent Luna has worked closely with the Governor, the Idaho Legislature and with all educational stakeholders to craft public schools budgets each and every year that meet our primary goal: to raise student achievement. When financial times were good and Idaho had surplus funding available, Superintendent Luna targeted funds into the classroom, where they are need most, and sought to improve the way Idaho's teachers are paid. As state revenues began to decline in 2009 and the economy took a turn for the worse, Superintendent Luna brought all educational stakeholders together to come up with ways in which we could strategically and prudently reduce the public schools budget while minimizing the impact on student achievement. He asked the adults in education to all sacrifice a little bit more for a little bit longer to preserve education's most important outcome: student achievement.

In 2010, he asked the Legislature to avoid gutting important programs and have every program take an across-the-board cut. Ultimately, working with the Legislature, he was able to preserve the Idaho Math Initiative, the Idaho Reading Initiative, and remediation funding for students. Instead of bemoaning lost state revenue, Superintendent Luna took a proactive approach, overturning every rock to find additional state revenue. During his 2010 presentation to the Legislature's budget committee, he proposed taking money from excess reserve funds, previously not tapped, including the one-time transfer of $52 million from the Public Schools Earning Reserve Fund overseen by the Idaho Land Board. Working with fellow Land Board members, he was able to secure $22 million from the Public Schools Earnings Reserve Fund and another $5.5 million in excess reserve funds to help offset deeper budget cuts. Superintendent Luna worked with the Legislature to ensure these additional revenues were used to minimize the impact on student achievement. Cuts to the public schools budget were minimized to $128 million, which is still significant. Superintendent Luna has been clear about budget cuts, "We cannot sugarcoat this. We must be honest with Idaho's parents and patrons that budget reductions this significant could have an impact on student achievement."

Superintendent Luna has taken a conservative, prudent budgeting approach in his own Department. As a businessman, he found efficiencies within the Department, such as consolidating printing and printers. When Superintendent Luna took office the State Department had 52 printers; it now has 19. In addition, when Superintendent Luna began leading the Department, the agency was printing 575,000 copies a month. By eliminating the in-house printing facility and utilizing more technology, the Department has cut monthly printing by more than half. In addition, State Department of Education employees used to be housed on four floors of the Len B. Jordan Building in downtown Boise. Now, office space has been consolidated to a single floor with the exception of IT staff and servers. This not only enables the Department to work more efficiently, but is also saving the Department more than $40,000 a year in rent. Superintendent Luna put these additional dollars of savings back in the classroom, providing additional supports for schools through grants to teachers for clicker technology, chess programs, and robotics technology.

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