The legislative session continues to move slower than normal while legislators continue to review the governor’s budget recommendations and get more familiar with the issues that will come before their committees this session. For the most part, legislators are waiting for an updated forecast to come out early March and for legislative leadership to establish committee budget targets shortly after that. Then, the real work of putting a budget together begins.
The governor’s bill has several major areas of concern.
• The 1-percent increase to the basic formula in 2013-14 will not cover rising costs. At a minimum, schools need inflationary increases to maintain class sizes, program offerings and other valuable educational opportunities.
• In 2014-15, the governor invests $122 million to reduce the special education unfunded costs which frees up general education dollars that are used to cover the mandated services. The dollars are distributed in such a way that some districts will get an increase of 1 percent while other districts will see increases over 4 percent. Without any additional revenue on the basic formula, districts with the lower increases will struggle to maintain programming for their students.
The governor’s K-12 target is $302 million, which translates into a 1-percent increase in the first fiscal year of the biennium. If schools are to receive more than this, then legislators need to hear from community members, school officials and staff soon. Requesting funding levels sufficient to cover the cost of inflation each year is necessary to provide students adequate and equitable funding. To do this, the legislature would need to increase education dollars for the next biennium to at least meet the expected rate of inflation of (1.74 percent CPI).
It also appears that assessments, licensure exams and integration aid are going to be focal points of discussion at the legislature. Both the House and Senate Education Policy committees have started digging into these issues. It seems that the Math GRAD will be eliminated. It’s doubtful that the legislature will completely eliminate the basic skills test requirement for licensure, but a change to this process is in the works.
The construction project is really winding down and we don’t have many contractors on site. The most recent installations and completions have been to the electronic lift, stage and gym floors, and door security system. We’ll continue to complete our “punch-list” items that need to be modified as well as final decisions and installation of the lights, audio, and curtain for the stage. As a reminder, all of our exterior doors are locked at 8:30 a.m. and all visitors need to check into the High School office located at the South entrance of Brooks Street Lobby.
This is a busy time of year for school board members and administration as we get into our financial planning phase for the upcoming school year. This is a difficult process as school districts are required to adopt an annual budget in June while they wait for proposed funds or anticipated revenue cuts from the state, and don’t receive final notification on these numbers until the middle of May when the legislative session ends. As a result, our board continues to monitor the current legislative session, budget status, and make recommendations if necessary.
In order to maintain fiscal responsibility for the school district, we’ll continue to gather valuable data to guide our decision-making process with a common goal of increasing student achievement levels. We plan to review projected enrollment numbers, revenue assumptions, anticipated expenditures, program staffing, appropriate class size, contracts, and potential legislative action. The majority of the planning and budgeting takes place during the months of February and March, and as usual, your input and questions are always appreciated.
Senior of the Week:
The EV-W School District would like to recognize Courtney Dilley, daughter of Brad and Jodi. Courtney brings a strong academic presence into the classroom, and demonstrates leadership skills on the basketball and volleyball courts. She is currently leading all scorers on the girls’ basketball team and provides great role modeling both on and off the court. The EV-W administration, faculty and staff are extremely proud of your accomplishments.