GLEP Testimony on FY ’16 School Aid Budget

GLEP proposes uniform Foundation Grant of $8,250 per pupil in testimony before the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on March 3 & 4

Click to download a one-pager and the full Powerpoint presentation.

Good morning, I’m Gary Naeyaert, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Education Project, or GLEP. We’re a non-profit, bi-partisan advocacy organization supporting choice, quality and accountability in K-12 education.

Beyond the school aid budget, our other priority issues include the following:

  • Improving Early Literacy through a comprehensive approach in grades K-3 of early screening; parental notification; intervention and tutoring; along with intensive intervention for non-proficient 3rd
  • Implementing a parent-friendly Accountability System that provides A-F letter grades to individual schools based on student proficiency and growth.
  • Expanding School Choice through the use of Education Savings Accounts for special needs students.
  • Reforming MPSERS in a way that honors our retirement commitments to existing education professionals while simultaneously ensuring the future sustainability of the system.
  • Improving Teacher Quality through an evaluation system that recognizes student academic outcomes; putting the best and brightest teachers in the classroom; rewarding high-performing teachers; requiring ineffective teachers to improve or leave the profession; and by addressing teacher prep programs.

Long-Term Goals in the School Aid Budget

  • Today, less than 80% of available funding is invested in the foundation grant while over 20% is put into categoricals. We support putting 90% of available funding into the foundation grant, so that declining enrollment results in increases in tPost It Notehe per-pupil foundation grant.
  • Delivering on the promise of Proposal A requires we finish the job and create a uniform foundation grant for students to cover the basic, operational costs of education.
  • Moving $1.4 billion from state categoricals to the foundation grant will put us at a 90:10 split, which will provide a uniform foundation grant of $8,250 per pupil for 95% of all students. More equity, less strings.
  • This requires a final fix to MPSERS and putting this $1 billion categorical into the foundation grant.
  • Prioritizing the foundation grant will eliminate some categoricals, yet there still remains $5 billion in federal, state and local funds targeted to special needs. [Another $6,500 per pupil if 50% of students are at-risk.]

Recommendations for the FY ’16 School Aid Budget

  • Invest $263 million to increase funding for the Foundation Grant
    • $108 million from the Governor’s recommendation
    • $100 million from MPSERS cost offset
    • $  30 million from “Best Practices”
    • $  25 million from “Technology Grants”
  • We recommend using these funds to increase the MINIMUM foundation grant by $250 per pupil, raising the lowest funding level to $7,501 per pupil for nearly 1 million students and reduce the equity gap to $598.
  • In the alternative, this could also be done through the historic 2x formula, which would result in:
    • Increasing the Minimum foundation grant by $200 to $7,451 per pupil
    • Increasing the Basic foundation grant by $100 to $8,199 per pupil
    • This would reduce the equity funding gap to $748 per pupil
  • Support Gov’s $100 million increase in “at risk” funds for 3rd grade reading and college-career readiness.
  • Support a next-generation testing assessment that measures individual student growth.
  • Support $25 million in state funds for early literacy screening and interventions.
  • Question $75 million in debt relief for DPS and other deficit districts.

I’d be happy to take any questions you may have at this time.