The bill providing a two percent increase in state aid for schools had its first hearing on Friday (1/30).
Members of the Senate Appropriations committee reviewed Senate Bill 53, but deferred action to a later date. A two percent increase would bring the per-student allocation to approximately $4,877 for the 2015-16 school year.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany told committee members school boards are appreciative of the funding increase and asked that legislators continue to work with the education community to find more dollars for schools.
“Schools are in need and we’d ask you to seriously consider the mechanism that gets us up from 1.5 to two percent (increase in state aid),” Pogany said.
To get from a 1.5 percent increase, which is the rate of inflation and statutorily required, to the proposed two percent increase, the costs of school technology, assessment and the sparsity factor would be added to the formula.
Adding the cost of the three areas to the formula means local taxpayers will help fund statewide initiatives, which Department of Education Director of Finance and Management Tami Darnall called a “win-win” for schools and the state and is similar to the small school adjustment and limited English proficiency dollars currently included in the formula.
“We’re just asking the tax payer to help a little bit,” Darnall said.
Rolling the three initiatives into the formula would save the state $2.6 million. Darnall said splitting the cost of the initiatives with the state saves tax payers the “burden” of funding them entirely.