Dear Supporters of Idaho Public Schools,
I write with some good news, some not-so-good news, and another call to action.
Here’s the good news: Our calls and emails to the governor’s office appear to be working.
Yesterday, after nearly two full days of non-stop calls and emails, the Governor issued a formal letter in response.
As a direct result of our actions, Governor Little has now taken a clear public position on this issue. This is a big step forward. For the first time, concerned citizens across the state have learned where the governor stands.
Here’s the not-so-good news: The governor is failing to acknowledge the urgency of the $115 million shortfall. The governor’s letter downplays the shortfall and suggests Reclaim Idaho is misleading the public by claiming the shortfall will cause serious harm to Idaho schools.
The truth is that the $115 million shortfall is an urgent problem that demands action from the governor. Here’s a fact that the governor’s office cannot deny: In direct response to the shortfall, school districts and charter schools are being forced to make painful budget decisions.
So far, we’ve collected testimony from over 100 school leaders and educators on the impact the shortfall is having on their local schools. Here are just a few of the comments:
“We have been trying to stop asking for supplemental levies and were so hopeful that with the additional funds we were promised that we would be able to do so. Moving from enrollment-based funding to attendance-based funding has taken the money that we were promised away from us. We did receive more funds for teachers but it doesn't actually mean we are able to give the salaries when our revenues are actually less than the prior year.”
-superintendent, Kuna School District
“The holdback of funds will create a shortfall of $1.3 million for the Jerome School District.”
-superintendent, Jerome School District
“The decrease in funding has led to our school district cutting teaching positions.”
-superintendent, Hansen School District
“This shortfall forced us to run a levy and kept the Parma School District from being able to enroll into the state insurance plan. The State insurance plan would be a huge benefit for those employees who need to insure spouses which we currently cannot do, as well as a huge saving for those that need to insure a child or children.”
-superintendent, Parma School District
“This shortfall will force our district to layoff possibly about 20 teachers as well as not rehire those leaving the district.”
-information technology instructor, Minidoka School District
“I really cannot function in my building without all of the teachers and support people that I have now. Cutting that funding would be a great deficit to the needs of our students. We cannot afford to cut any personnel.”
-principal, Rupert Elementary
“This will force us to lose positions in our school as we will be unable to fund the current staff that we have. The end result is less support for our students.”
-head of schools, Xavier Charter School (Twin Falls)
“We are having to make cuts in the hundreds of thousands due to this measure.”
-principal administrator, Gem Prep charter school (Twin Falls)
The bottom line is that the $115 million shortfall is real and it is already forcing school districts and charters to make severe cuts that will hurt students.
We must continue to urge the governor to acknowledge the urgency of this issue. Please, if you haven’t yet signed the petition calling on Governor Little to take action, sign today by clicking below.
If you’ve already signed, please forward the petition to friends and ask them to sign.
Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead. Our work on this issue is far from over.