New money should start flowing to school districts again in 2015 and Linda Clark couldn’t be happier.
Legislative budget writers approved a 5.1 percent increase — $66 million — in public schools funding Monday, making good on a promise to rebuild education that suffered across the state through deep recessionary cuts.
“Well, I’m smiling,” said Clark, Meridian School District superintendent.
Meridian School District will get about $6.6 million in new dollars. About $4.1 million goes to operational expenses such as running the school buildings and providing materials.
Another $2.5 million goes to a 1 percent pay raise for teachers and other needs, such as additional training for instructors in teaching the new Idaho Core Standards.
But there is a big IF…
Clark said the district still needs voters to renew a $14 million levy on March 11 to help make up for cuts that the Legislature hasn’t been able to fill. The money pays for several teachers and school days.
With both the new money and the levy, the district will be able to hold this year’s budget intact for next year and do some more training.
Much of what budget writers approved was in the recommendations from Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education, such as restoring cut dollars and beefing up training.
“We’ve had lot of really positive conversations with the Legislature this year,” Clark said.