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