House Education committee members voted to defer action on House Bill 1213, which would reduce the amount of state aid and eliminate the small school adjustment after school district drops under 100 total students for two consecutive years.
Executive Director Wade Pogany testified that the bill would “slowly erode” districts with under 100 students if state aid was decreased and the small school adjustment eliminated.
“Our preference would be to eliminate the “100 student” rule completely,” Pogany said
Current state law requires a school district, not classified as sparse, to consolidate when its enrollment dips below the 100 student line. HB 1213 would allow non-sparse districts with under 100 students to remain open, but would only provide a percentage of state aid based on the number students enrolled.
“(Districts) then have to make a decision,” Rep. Charlie Hoffman (23), the bill’s sponsor, testified. “It’s local control at its finest.”
Hoffman noted the “contentious” arguments consolidation creates in small communities and sees the bill as a way for small districts to remain open.
Pogany said he opposed the bill only because he felt Senate Bill 96 presented a more ideal option for small districts.
SB 96 would allow school districts with an enrollment under 100 to remain open, if they are exercising joint powers or intergovernmental cooperation in education. Districts could share teachers, courses or curriculums among other services while students remain in their home district. ASBSD supports the bill.
Committee members concluded action on HB 1213 and SB 96, which passed the Senate and is assigned to the House Education committee, should take place on the same day.
ASBSD will update the discussion when the bills come before the committee. Check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker for updates.