Thursday, May 26, 2011

Report on State School Funding from the MEA Economist

The report included below is what was received yesterday from the MEA’s Economist, Ruth Beier. THIS IS NOT good news! Several of you have sent letters to me today that you have received from legislators describing the same scenario. This is not good news. It means that to gain the extra funding available, school districts will have to jump through "hoops", not so accurately named, "best practices.

In summary, the budget agreed upon puts into place almost the entire $470 per pupil reduction as originally proposed weeks ago. This bill does allow schools to earn a $100 payment by meeting 4 of 5 “best practices” (Ruth outlines them in her report). The bill does give schools another $100 which they now require schools to use that toward retirement obligations and NOTHING else.

Please read this report from Ruth.

The School Aid Act Conference Committee completed its conference report. The bill now goes back to both houses for approval and then to the Governor. Either house can make changes, but that is not likely (according to Ruth Beier, MEA Economist). The Governor could veto all or some of the bill

Summary of State Aid Act as approved by the Conference Committee (SB 183 C-1)

1) Eliminates declining enrollment categorical, retains 3-year pupil count averaging language for small, rural districts.

2) Changes blended count to 10/90

3) Only get full time FTE for Kindergarten if student attends full day, beginning in 2012-13

4) Reduces foundation allowance by $470 per pupil.

5) Gives districts $100 per pupil for best practices, which means meeting 4 OF 5 of the following (not all 5)
a. Employee pays at least 10% of insurance premium
b. District is policy holder of the insurance policy
c. Adopt a service consolidation plan if not already.
d. Obtain competitive bids for 1 non instructional service that costs more than $50k
e. Puts more data on a "dashboard" that the public can see (MEAP, Fund Balance, other

6) Appropriates $155 million statewide to districts based each district's portion of total statewide payroll. This money is to be used to defray cost of MPSERS. This averages to $100 per pupil, but varies.

7) Eliminates Bilingual categorical

8) Creates a MPSERS Reserve fund in the School Aid Fund-- similar to reserve a portion of the School Aid Fund balance. The Act does not say what this money is to be used for.