The Office of Public Instruction prepares for budget reductions

Yesterday, the Governor’s Budget Director announced that all four levels of mandated funding reductions in SB 261 must be fully implemented. Preceding the July 25th announcement, and in preparation for this possibility, the OPI has had ongoing communications with local districts and other education stakeholders regarding how the reductions would occur. The OPI and schools are impacted by the Level 2 and Level 4 reductions in the following way:
• Level 2: The OPI will reduce state level activities in line with the appropriation reductions. For the reductions in distributions to schools, including the special education and at-risk payments, the OPI will prorate the reduction for each program using existing allocation protocols.
• Level 4: The OPI will prorate the Secondary Vocational Education reduction across all recipients, eliminate the Data for Achievement and Natural Resource Development payments to all school districts, and apply the formula in SB 261 to reduce the combined block grant payments to school districts.
An estimate of the impact on each district can be found on the OPI’s website, but the total impact to all Montana districts is expected to be about $6.6 million for FY 2018. Additional reductions will occur in FY 2019. In total, SB 261 will reduce school funding by about $19.1 million over the FY 2018-FY 2019 biennium. 
The OPI will adjust the August payments to schools to reflect these reductions. On August 25th, following the preapproved schedule adopted by the Board of Public Education, the OPI will disburse $60.8 million to schools. 
“The OPI promises to serve students and communities in these tight fiscal times. As the State Superintendent, a legislator of 12 years, and a classroom teacher of 23 years, I strongly advocate that the state upholds its responsibility for school funding and promote local budget stability. I am disappointed that local communities are being burdened by these reductions, which will directly affect students,” Arntzen said Tuesday.

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