Charter School Funding Discussions this week in the Legislature

LRF Funding Change questioned:

The Joint Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed their base budget recommendations on Wednesday, passing on a budget that cuts $63 Million from the current base budget The item of most discussion was a planned $20M line-item designed to shift funding for the charter school local replacement fund from the state to districts. This plan would increase funding to charters by $2.8M, but would draw from district funds through an equalization formula that would draw $17.8 M from existing district budgets, negatively impacting some districts significantly more than others. (See how each district would be impacted at here.) Several legislators discussed their concerns for both the plan and the negative impact school districts in their areas would have from its implementation. Clearly this is going to be an item of future discussion and it was uncertain from the committee discussion whether such a funding item will ultimately be adopted.

Charter Oct.1 funding – request for one year extension:
State Superintendent Smith and members of the Board of Education testified as to their recommendations for the budget. While most were followed by the Appropriations Committee, the items of greatest concern and discussion between the Board and Committee was the need to analyze the funding formulas currently in place, and seek funding alignment between how districts and charter funding are allocated. Currently charters are funded on “the greater of” Average Daily Membership (ADM – the number of days a student receives education) or their October 1 enrollment count. The October 1 funding option is set to expire at the end of this school year and would decrease funding to charters by over $5M if eliminated. Senator Stephenson asked Superintendent Smith whether he would consider allowing charters to fund on October 1 for one additional year. Smith answered that he would be willing to consider the 1 year extension if the legislature ties it to a requirement for the USOE to study and recommend funding changes to bring Districts and Charters to the same funding method by next year. Smith and others noted that the current funding methodology is based on a “1950’s view of education funding” and needs to be modernized for both districts and charters. Clearly this was not a settled item, but we now know the USOE and Legislature’s opening positions on continuing Oct. 1 enrollment count funding.

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