Public Schools Chief cautions declaring fiscal emergencies - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Public Schools Chief cautions declaring fiscal emergencies

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BOISE, Idaho. - Public schools chief Tom Luna says districts seeking to declare a financial emergency under a new state law, which clears the way for changes to teacher contracts and salary cuts, should not take this step lightly.
     
In a letter to school superintendents last week, Luna said districts that declare financial emergencies to balance budgets next year will not be able to do it again the following year unless the state further cuts education spending.
     
The school district for Pocatello and Chubbuck in eastern Idaho declared a financial emergency Tuesday.

School districts in Coeur d'Alene and Idaho Falls are also considering whether to declare a financial emergency under a law the governor signed last month.

Other than declaring a financial emergency, there is no way to lower teacher's salaries or contract lengths, even if the teacher's agree.
     
Idaho has dedicated $1.3 billion in general funds for public schools next year, down 7.7 percent from the current year and the first time in generations state spending on education is less than the previous year.

Financial Emergency Q&A

Q: Who can declare a financial emergency?
A: School district trustees are the only entity authorized to declare financial emergencies, however the State Department of Education must certify that the appropriate condition has been met.

Q: What other options are available to school district trustees if they choose not to declare a financial emergency?
A: Trustees still have the option to use the reduction in force. There may also be school districts whose current general fund balance is large enough that the district can continue to oprate under the current contract.

>>See all FAQ's

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