WRKF
5:33 am
Wed May 22, 2013

La. Public School Funding Uncertain

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 8:34 am

Next year’s method for funding for public schools is a bit up in the air after the Senate Education Committee rejected the proposed formula from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program, or the MFP, was shot down last week because of a clerical error: BESE sent the legislature a draft of the MFP rather the final version.

BESE resent the correct version for Tuesday’s meeting. Sen. Dan Claitor nonetheless moved to defer the bill without objection.

“I believe procedurally and substantively this is defective," Claitor said.

Lawmakers are being more cautious this year because the 2012-2013 school year’s MFP was recently overturned. The State Supreme Court ruled the procedure used to pass it was incorrect, and the policy it contained was out of place.

The substantive problem with the proposed formula is that it contains controversial measures for funding special education. The formula would weigh funding for different disabilities, and it ties funding to academic achievements like testing scores and graduation rates.

Last year, Sen. Claitor sponsored an act that urged BESE to find an equitable way to fund special ed.

“I appreciate that BESE and Supt.White took up the charges that I asked them to take up," Claitor said, "but there’s work yet to be done.”

Supt. John White is expecting the state to operate on the 2011-2012 formula for the upcoming year, as it will for the remainder of this one. There’s a provision in it that allows for per-student allocation to increase by 2.75 percent if another formula isn’t approved for subsequent years.

The reversion could cost the state at least $30 million more than what's allocated in the budget bill.

Barry Landry, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, expects the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to discuss the MFP before the session ends on June 6.

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