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District 91 says recent public meetings were helpful in budget cut process

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Idaho Falls School District 91 continues to search for ways to help them cut $4 million in next year's budget. The school district held two public meetings in March seeking input on how they could cut their budget.

"One of the most useful things that have come out of our budget meetings is it's helping us set our priorities. We know what the community really values and wants to keep in place," Idaho Falls School District 91 Superintendent Karla LaOragne said.

LaOrange said the most important thing they learned from the public meetings is that the patrons and parents want to keep their teachers.

"We've had a very strong focus on retaining really good teachers and keeping our paraprofessionals who also serve our students. That's been an extremely strong focus," LaOrange said.

LaOrange said the meetings helped show them areas they could cut. She can not say what those cuts are but will be presented to the school board in a meeting on Friday, April 5 at 8 a.m.

LaOrange shared they were able to help make the cuts without impacting the classroom.

"It's also helped us to see areas where we can reduce costs a little bit that people feel will have the least impact on the classroom and the least impact on our teachers as they help students learn," LaOrange said.

She said the district was very thankful for the help from everyone who came to the meetings.

"I'm continually impressed and humbled by the tremendous support that the patrons of Idaho Falls School District 91 show just in coming to the meetings, providing comments, asking really good questions, becoming informed, and then giving us information and feedback that is used in establishing this budget. And I'm really grateful for that," LaOrange said.

Many of the questions brought up at the meetings were on how schools are funded. During COVID schools were funded by enrollment numbers but recently the state legislature has returned school funding to attendance.

LaOrange says the district is doing much better in terms of attendance numbers as well.

"We've done a big push on attendance. We've been able to increase that from 88% to 90 to 92% for most of our schools. So we're seeing some progress there on attendance. However, the district has been dipping into its savings account to try to provide the very best resources possible to our students. We're at a point where we can't sustain that kind of spending anymore," LaOrange said.

The proposed budget is revenue-based and LaOrange said the public's feedback will be instrumental as they put it all together.

LaOrange said District 91 has been transparent throughout this process and will continue to be as they seek to cut $4 million from the budget.

"As a superintendent and our school board as well, we really value the input that we receive from our patrons and our community. We want them involved. We want them informed as well. And so we will continue to try to be as open and transparent as possible throughout this process. And we're always open to the feedback that we receive about how we can improve there as well. Our community, particularly our parents and patrons, are very important partners with us and we want to include them and hear them throughout this process and other things that we will be forwarding in the future as well," LaOrange said.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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