The fifth week of legislative session was littered with a variety bills for K-12 education (check past week’s posts) with a hearing on a bill that would adjust special education funding concluding the week.
Senate Bill 15 calls for the adjustment of the tax levy for special education to be raised to $1.53 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation and would set the state’s qualifying levy at $1.33 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation.
SB 15 would aim at establishing a 61-39 local effort to state funding ratio for special education. Testimony by state representative suggested the ratio had fluctuated annually.
“One year the state might have picked up a little bit more, one year the locals might have picked up a little bit more,” Department of Education Director of Finance Tammy Darnall said.
State Economist Jim Terwilliger said if the levy is not increased the “state would be picking up a higher percentage” of special education funding. Terwilliger added that a bill should have been introduced annually addressing the special education levy.
“We have not been as diligent at adjusting this levy as we should have been,” Darnall said.
The bill would also set a $4 million cap on the extraordinary cost fund, which Darnall said had “seen significant increases” recently, with a review of every three years. An amendment introduced would allow school districts to apply for ECF dollars with a higher fund balance level than previously allowed.
ASBSD will continue to monitor the bill. For updates check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.
For additional information on the legislative session, and on ASBSD, check out the February Bulletin, which has an in-depth review of the first 20 days of session.
“Quotes” of Note
“It is too soon. I hope we can put this issue to bed… and continue to lift up this great profession.” – Sen. Mark Johnston (12) said about a bill that would allow school districts to opt-out of continuing contracts.
“We need to find a way to fund (teachers) appropriately year-to-year.” Rep. Paula Hawks (9) said during discussion special project funding bill.
“Our preference would be to eliminate the ‘100 student’ rule completely.” Executive Director Wade Pogany testified during a hearing on a bill that decrease funding for schools with an enrollments under 100.
“Everyone, generally, thought (the scholarship) was a good idea.” Sen. Tim Rave (25) said about a bill that would establish the scholarship program for students entering critical needs teaching areas, which originated from House Bill 1234.
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