We have held off on reporting on the progress of the Education Budget Conference Committee because the first exchange of offers between the Conference Committee members produce significant swings in funding and policy that are not really indicative of the final result and, instead, can cause confusion. However, the chambers have now progressed in the negotiation process to the point where we now feel confident in providing some highlights of where things stand as of 2:00 pm today:
Though the chambers are still working out differences in the FEFP, both are providing a total FEFP funding of about $19.68 billion – an increase of about $780 million. This produces total FEFP funding per student of about $7,097 – an increase of about $207, or 3%. The Base Student Allocation will probably wind up at around $4,155 – an increase of about $125, or about 3%. Other elements in the budget and/or implementing bill include:
- Digital Classrooms – increase of $20 million (total of $60 million), but still fine-tuning policy. Appears that the policy is likely to call for a 3rd party assessment of each district’s digital readiness and identify technology gaps and require districts to give priority in use of funds to close identified gaps.
- 300 Lowest Performing Schools – increase of $6.8 million to SAI, with no change from current policy – i.e. no expansion to summer school and no added district flexibility in how and when the additional hour of instruction is offered.
- Discretionary millage compression — No change from current policy.
- Special Facilities Millage – provides that any district that generates less than $2 million in revenue from a one mill levy must contribute .75 mill (rather than 1.5 mills) for FY 2015·2016 to the cost of funded special facilities projects.
- Spasity Supplement – increase of 4.48 million and provides that, for districts that have 20,000—24,000 FTE, the FTE are divided by 4 high school centers to determine the sparsity index.
- Federally Connected Student Supplement – provided to support the education of students connected to military bases, Indian lands, and NASA property.
There have been no decisions yet with regard to PECO allocations – that issue is likely to be decided by the Appropriations Committee Chairs rather than the Conference Committee. There also has been no discussion as yet on the FRS contribution rates – that will be determined by the At-Large Conference Committee – but both chambers propose an increase in the contribution for the Health Insurance Subsidy but, even so, there should be an over-all reduction in the regular class contribution rate. In addition, there are still several major non-FEFP items to be worked out, but steady progress is being made to resolve them. The Conference Committee is scheduled to meet again this evening and it is expected that most of the remaining items will be resolved at that time. Any unresolved items will be “bumped” up to the Appropriations Chairs — Senator Lee and Representative Corcoran — sometime this evening. We will provide a report on this evening’s meeting(s) and other developments as soon as possible.
I hope you find this information useful. Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, please note that I will be in transit to the FSBA Annual Conference this evening and will be engaged in activities there through Friday, but can be reached via email or cell phone during that time.