Ed money 

Stimulus could save teachers, salaries

Though the Boise School District was poised to absorb $8 million to $10 million in budget cuts, stimulus money from Washington, D.C., may now save programs that just a week ago were on the chopping block.

All 10 of the proposed K-12 cuts, designed to save the state $62 million, have been put on hold now that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has word from Washington, D.C., of about $346 million in education-related stimulus money.

"We hope that means we won't have to implement those 10 bad ideas," Luna's spokesperson Melissa McGrath said.

The bulk of the money, $242.6 million, is meant to offset state budget cuts and prevent layoffs and salary cuts. Low-income student programs will get $34.6 million, school improvement grants total $10.6 million, $3.1 million goes to education technology, and $54 million pays for services to students with disabilities.

Some money for homeless students is also included in the federal funding.

Just a few weeks ago, Luna had proposed cuts to everything from teacher pay to field trips and textbooks. Boise school officials, who met with legislative Democrats, were particularly concerned about one of Luna's cuts—eliminating the cost-per-mile reimbursement for busing students in urban areas—which would have come almost exclusively out of the Boise schools. The $1.7 million savings to the state would cost Boise $1.45 million, according to a district estimate.

Boise School District Superintendent Stan Olson told lawmakers the district would have to rehaul its busing strategy, along with other cuts that could affect learning in the classroom.

"Very quickly, it gets to people and positions," Olson told lawmakers.

But McGrath said all the proposed cuts are on hold until details of the stimulus money, including when it will arrive and in what form, are worked out.

"We're in a holding pattern until we get that guidance," she said.

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