The Legislature’s budget committee today reduced the general fund operations budget for the State Department of Education by about 4 percent.
Since FY2009, the Department’s agency budget has been reduced by nearly 20 percent. The Department has absorbed these budget cuts and holdbacks through furlough days, reducing travel, utilizing virtual meetings, cutting back printing costs, and not filling vacant positions.
Next fiscal year, while the agency’s 133 employees will continue to deal with further reductions to the operations budget, the overall general fund budget for the State Department of Education will increase to fund the ongoing maintenance and operations of the statewide longitudinal data system.
This funding will be used for the statewide longitudinal data system, not for the operations of the State Department of Education agency.
This is the first year the statewide longitudinal data system has been implemented in the state of Idaho. Idaho is the last state in the nation to implement such a system.
This comprehensive data system streamlines data collection and reporting at the local school district and state levels into one state-of-the-art system. With the longitudinal data system, states can ensure that student records can be easily transferred; student privacy is protected; data definitions and requirements are clear; and data systems are organized in ways that facilitate public use, efficient information transfer and user-friendly reporting.
In 2008, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna rolled out a multi-year plan for developing and deploying a statewide longitudinal data system in Idaho. That plan included initial funding to develop the system and $1.8 million a year in ongoing costs after the system was up and running.
The Legislature had appropriated $2.5 million for the State Department of Education in FY2009 to begin the work on the statewide longitudinal data system. When the wheels fell off the economy, the State Department of Education secured a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue work on the development of the system.
Now, the system is developed and operational. This request fulfills the Legislature’s commitment to fund the ongoing maintenance and operations of $969,200 in the next fiscal year.
Without this request for the statewide longitudinal data system, the State Department of Education’s overall decrease would be more than 4 percent.
~ Melissa M.