The State Office of Education will miss the deadline set by Gov. Norm Bangerter for a budget based on potential cutbacks if tax initiatives on the November ballot pass.
The governor had asked for a "what-if" budget by Aug. 22. Friday, members of the State Board of Education voted to ask for an extension to allow them to receive more input from local school boards.The state board asked district boards to make dual budgets anticipating reductions that would have to be made to accommodate smaller incomes. That information is vital to the state office to determine where cuts could be made that would be most palatable to the locals. Not all of the local boards have yet complied with the request, said Dr. James R. Moss, state superintendent of public instruction.
The state board was reluctant to simply impose a 13 percent cut across the board. More specific items need to be identified to allow the public to understand how the reductions would affect school services, board members agreed. The basic education program also must be protected.
Laurie Chivers, state financial officer, said it has not been possible even to determine how the various tax issues would affect public education. Several scenarios would have to be prepared to accurately reflect how education would fare if one, two or all three of the tax initiatives pass, she said.
The board directed staff to investigate all the issues, collect the local data and prepare an alternative budget as quickly as possible, ideally by their September meeting.