Education council proposals to go before Legislature

December 29, 2009

By Staff

The Quality Education Council has developed two recommendations to put before legislators next month as part of their work to redefine basic education and create a new state funding model for it.At their Dec. 2 meeting, council members voted to approve a new pupil transportation funding formula, beginning in 2011. Full implementation of the new transportation system would take place by September 2013.

It also voted that the state’s new system should pay for nonemployee related costs, like maintenance, supplies and operating costs of schools, beginning in 2011.

If approved by the Legislature, districts would rely less on their local levies to support basic needs to operate schools, but that would mean finding more money in the state budget to support education.

“The recommendations have the potential to help save local districts a significant amount of money,” State Superintendent and Council Chair Randy Dorn said in a press release.

The full plan for altering the state’s budget to account for the bill, is not yet known.

ESHB 2261 calls for the system, based on a “prototypical” school-funding formula, to be implemented by 2018, according to the release.

The prototypical school model, “illustrate(s) the level of resources needed to operate a school of a particular size with particular types and grade levels of students, using commonly understood terms and inputs, such as class size, hours of instruction and various categories of school staff.”

How to get there is still in discussion but end goals should be determined sooner rather than later, Dorn’s release said.

“If we don’t know now what the system should look like in 2018,” he said, “it will be a bit like having blueprints for a new house without knowing how much money your supplies will cost.”

A formal report from the council is due for delivery to the Legislature next month.

Council membership includes four state representatives and four state senators — there is equal representation of Democrats and Republicans — Dorn; Bette Hyde, director of early learning; a governor appointee; and several representatives from the State Board of Education and the Professional Educator Standards board.

The council was created with the passage of Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261, which will create a new state funding system for education based on a new state definition for basic education.

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