Although public education was putatively held harmless during the budget cuts coming out of the recent special legislative session, the Minimum School Program (MSP) budget was reduced for fiscal year 2010 by $73,979,500. The State Board of Education was asked by the legislature to propose ways to achieve this reduction.
Friday in Board meeting, the following proposal was approved:
| 1. UPSTART
| 2. USTAR
| 3. Special education additional days
| 4. Teach salary supplement (math/science)
|Total ongoing reductions
| 1. Differentiated compensation
| 2. Uniform School Fund Restricted: Growth in Student Population Account
|Total one-time reductions
|Total proposed reductions
The “Uniform School Fund Restricted: Growth in Student Population Account” is a $100 M reserve account, originally designed to protect against education unplanned student growth. The legislature set the $100 M aside this last session “just in case.” This proposal would continue to hold $63 M in reserve—a smart decision, I think.
I think it’s important to add that this proposal was reached after significant feedback from school districts.
There have been expressions of concern that further reductions may be requested; the governor’s office has also requested public education at this time the Board has not been asked to provide additional cuts.
Although not technically public education, the Utah Education Network (UEN) provides a significant amount of technology services to public education; 80% of their funding goes to public education. UEN has stated they need to cut 4% ($900,000) from the first round of cuts. They’re hoping to accomplish the savings by eliminating unfilled staff positions, non-essential travel and professional development, and by postponing network improvements to about 70 elementary or charter schools (fewer if districts will help with payment).
Further, (and I hope there is public outrage at least on this point) the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) has been asked (as it is a state agency) by the legislature to prepare for additional 5% or 10% budget cuts for the next school year. Although they’ve been able to survive a 3% reduction without directly impacting their education programs, further cuts will have a significant impact on students that are underrepresented in the current process.
Even during times of increased revenues, the USDB was not given resources to build a much needed facility. Its students were moved to a handful of ill-suited buildings without ready accommodations for disabilities. (There was a July 13, 2008 Deseret News editorial on the subject. See also Trib, KSL.) Unlike local districts, USDB does not have taxing authority, and thus must rely on the state for the whole of its funding.