Tuesday, March 10, 2015

School Funding, School Transfers Legislation

Today, I will be joining the other Boone County school superintendent's in a visit to the state capitol to visit with our local legislators and senator to express our concerns with recent legislation that is currently being discussed at our state capitol.

This is the time of the year when our state officials make decisions that not only affect our state but also our schools.  At the forefront of this legislative session are two subjects that will affect how public schools will function in the future. School funding is being discussed and essentially the hope is that funding will remain where it is currently with no losses irregardless of school size.   According to MASA's recent report:

House Committee Finalizes Budget, Entire House to Consider This Week
The House Select Committee on Budget gave their stamp of approval to a state budget that increases appropriations to Missouri's funding formula from the amount likely to be distributed in FY2015 by approximately $85 million. The budget now moves to the entire House of Representatives this week as Legislators will consider the budget. 
If this amount ends up being distributed, it is estimated no district would lose state funding as a result of the passage of HB 1689 last year. The increase also comes within just a few million dollars of ensuring that the state would be able to fully fund an adequacy target of $6,131 in the 2015-2016 school year.
Budget leaders in both the House and Senate have publicly stated intentions to come up with the funds to address the funding problems created by HB 1689, and SAC is dedicated to working with them over the coming weeks to ensure they are successful. 
If your district is represented by any of the members of the Budget Committee, it is recommended you contact them to thank them for their dedication to provide the necessary funding in 2015-2016 to avoid the negative impact of HB1689. 
On the subject of school transfers:
Price Tag, Mandates Slow Down Senate Transfer Bill, House 
Version Takes Center Stage
During debate two weeks ago on SB 1, the Senate's attempt to address the student transfer crisis, Senators jumped at the opportunity to attach a number of provisions to the student transfer bill that went beyond the intent of the original bill. The result? A price tag of more than $200 million, split between state and local tax payers. The primary cost-drivers are provisions regarding the mandatory retention of students and the mandate that all school districts screen students for dyslexia.

The first provision would require students in St. Louis County to be retained in the 5th or 8th grade if they failed to score "proficient" or "advanced" on MAP tests in both Mathematics and English Language Arts. Because students would be in school longer, the entire state would be forced to pick up the tab through the foundation formula at the tune of $82 million per year. 
The second provision requires every school district in the state to test every student for dyslexia. This mandate would cost school districts a combined $120 million.
For more detail of the cost of SB 1 you can find the fiscal estimate of SB 1 hereAlso, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story about the developments with SB 1 and which provisions are driving up the cost of the bill.
The cost of SB1 will completely wipe out the increases to the foundation formula discussed above and will lead to the redistribution of state aid from formula districts to hold harmless districts that have been documented throughout the fall and beginning of the legislative session.
Senator Mike Cunningham and Senator Jay Wasson are leading the effort to protect schools from costly provisions in the school transfer bill that endanger the state's ability to fund the formula or put expensive state mandates on school districts. 
SB 1 negatively affects every district in the state, not just those in areas that are currently affected by transfers. 
The Missouri Association of School Administrators has endorsed HB 42, which passed the House by a vote of 114-43. While there are a few things to be corrected in HB42, the bill is a straightforward approach to solving the transfer issue without the costly or negative provisions contained in SB1. 

Thank you for your time this morning and as always thank you for your unending support!!!

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