[gsis_admins] Re: Funding Changes

  • From: Denise Epperson <denise.epperson@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: gsis_admins@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2015 12:03:58 -0500


Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 17, 2015, at 12:02 PM, Samantha Mimbs <samantha.mimbs@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

This was sent to me last week.

The Funding Subcommittee of the Governor's Education Reform Commission met
today for what it hopes will be its final meeting. As planned, they voted on
the recommendations to move forward to the full Commission next week. All
the Subcommittees worked hard, but this group had the hardest, most closely
scrutinized task.

They asked for more time to work on this redesign and the Governor gave it to
them. They asked for more money rather than just basing this on the amount
appropriated this year, and they appear to have gotten the ok on that up to a
certain level. The legislators on the Subcommittee have also made it clear
that they expect to continue to add back funding as the economy continues to
grow and revenue becomes available. The Governor's staff kept going back to
the drawing board to meet the Subcommittee's requests, so congratulations to
all of them for getting this done ahead of the December 18th deadline and in
a way that moves in the right direction for students.

Is everybody happy with it? No, but that's part of the art of compromise.

How'd it end up?

The proposal is very close to our previous description; we'll recap the
changes below. This narrative describes the various parts, the amount
generated by each, and how that compares with that earned under QBE. The
spreadsheet showing the effect by district is available here.

There will be a base amount earned for each student plus weighted amounts for
each characteristic of the student. For example, for a first grader who is
gifted and in ESOL the district would earn:

the base + the K-3 weight + the gifted weight + the ESOL weight = $4,189

Grades 4-5 have been added as a weighted group, so the base is now grades
6-8. They noted that thecentral office amount is not full funding but about
$40,000 for each position. CTAE funding will not be tiered or prioritized by
topic. The low enrollment grant now includes a minimum millage rate
requirement -- it was set the same as it is for equalization.

On teacher compensation, the staff recommended that the state not provide
models for districts to use but instead provide guidance.

The summary shows an additional $258 million is needed to fund this. The $17
million increase from the last summary is due to the inclusion of additional
charter systems in 2018.

Several changes were made in the meeting:

House Appropriations Chair Terry England made a multi-part motion that
passed: the additional $258 million proposed here for the '18 budget would be
a permanent addition and the remaining $209 million of the 2016 austerity cut
would be added as available; state virtual school funding would be left
unchanged; and the eleven districts and two state virtual charters receiving
less in the bottom line would be held harmless for three years.

Senate Education Chair Lindsey Tippens wanted to get more funding for grades
4-5 to ensure proficiency in the four math functions by the end of grade
five. His proposal to add $59 million more failed as did a motion to shift
that amount from the gifted to this category. They will include a statement
that funding for grades 4-5 should be increased as funds become available.

House Education Appropriations Chair Tom Dickson was concerned that schools
below the base size were not earning funds for a principal. They left the
funding for principals in the base but an adjustment will be made to ensure
that each school earns a principal.

Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks proposed changing the funding ratio for
teachers from 1:26.25 in the base to1:25. This would help the teachers and
students and would leave nobody on the hold harmless list. They decided to
include a statement that this should happen as more funding becomes available.

How'd they do?

There are a couple of ways to evaluate the new structure -- comparing it to
QBE and looking at it simply as a funding formula. QBE has ended up as more
of a mirage than anything else. It was designed to be much more than a
funding formula, but many pieces of it were never implemented. As a funding
formula, it has always been described as underfunded. Back in the '90's --
long before austerity cuts -- it was judged to be at least a billion dollars
underfunded. Then the austerity cuts started, so it's been a long time
sinceQBE was anywhere close to what it was intended to be if it ever was.

A funding formula is generally expected to have certain characteristics:

Adequacy -- we've had no cost study, so there is no way to judge that one and
it seems to be irrelevant in this age of pragmatism where we focus on using
what we have the best way we can

Equity -- this seems to be much more equitable for students across the state
with a lot of attention paid to the small, rural districts

Transparency -- we need to work on that by ensuring clear information on the
calculation of the base and how it will be calculated going forward

Predictability -- clearing up the transparency issues will help with this
one; including something that pushes future reviews and updates will also
help as there is no inflation factor included so far; a minimum state salary
schedule would also help teachers have some idea what to expect

Flexibility -- as long as the district signs a contract with the state, the
use of the funding is left up to the local board and superintendent;
districts that don't sign a contract will be subject to all the rules and
expenditure controls -- it's not clear if that means we leave the QBE rules
on the books or make new ones

This will take a massive change in thinking about how we do things as we
shift from thinking about the programs we must offer to what students need,
from how the state requires you to spend funding to how the money can best be
used, and from working from a salary schedule to deciding how you want to
compensate your staff. Good thing we're all lifelong learners.

Best Regards,
Samantha Mimbs Data Coordinator, Monroe County Schools

Phone: 478-994-2031
Email: samantha.mimbs@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Website: http://www.monroe.k12.ga.us
Address: 25 Brooklyn Ave Forsyth, GA 31029

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