To the editor:
A financial perfect storm is inevitable for many school districts unless the 132nd General Assembly intervenes in the state budget process.
First, it is noted the governor's budget proposal moves the public school system 180 degrees away from the constitutional requirement of a "thorough and efficient system of common schools."
Second, to move toward a constitutional system, the budget must address the over-reliance of property tax via a massive infusion of state funds.
Third, a new foundation program – predicated on the actual cost of a high-quality education for all students – must be constructed. Tinkering with the current program is an exercise in futility.
A dive into the budget proposal turns up some murky details, a few of which are:
• The announced $200 million increase is more than offset by another reduction in tangible personal property reimbursement amounting to $240 million over the biennium and additional funds for charters and vouchers.
• Total additional amount does not offset inflation.
• School transportation is cut by over 12%.
• Career Tech educational enhancements are cut by 33%.
• EdChoice is expanded from $31.5 million to $38.4 in FY 18 to $47.7 million in FY 19.
• Charter facilities fund is increased from $17.2 million to $18 million each year.
• Special education enhancements are reduced by $11 million.
There are many other school district-unfriendly aspects of the budget proposal such as more than 1/3 of the districts are in line to lose up to 5% funding due to enrollment changes.
The mischief for school districts in this proposal is mind-boggling. The best approach for the Legislature is to scrap the proposal and raise much-needed revenue to appropriately fund public K-12 education and other state services.