The Government Relations presentation at the Summer Leadership Institute focused on trends in school funding in our state, including providing a realistic look at what we see as some of the barriers to achieving stable, predictable increases in school funding.
That presentation was followed by table-top discussions among attendees using a set of structured questions designed to get members thinking about topics of conversation they could (and should) be having with legislative candidates and incumbents in their areas. Below, we summarize the most common comments from those discussions.
What are the biggest challenges facing your district’s budget?
- Funding Formula/Revenue Limits, including the impact of declining enrollment
- Recruiting/Retaining Staff
- Health Insurance
- Increasing & Diverse Student Needs (Special Ed, Bilingual, Poverty, Mental Health, Transportation, School Lunch)
Where do you see your district in 5 years, in 10 years?
- Funding Challenges/Increased Reliance on Referenda
- Tough Competition for Teachers/Students
- Consolidation/Sharing of Services
- Continued Erosion of Local Control
- Thriving/Growing (Space Needs)
- Reduced Academic/Athletic Offerings
- Emphasis on Individualized Learning
Where do you want to see your district in 5 years, in 10 years?
- Better Funding Formula/Predictability in Funding from State
- New/Improved Facilities
- Ability to Retain/Reward Staff (Low Turnover/Stability)
- Increased Use of Technology
- High Student Achievement/Graduation Rate
- High Level of Student Postsecondary Preparedness
- Increased Academic Offerings/Personalized Learning
- Stable/Increased Enrollment
What would you have to do in your district to build support for stable, predictable funding to allow your district to get to where you want it to be?
- Communicate with public to understand that their investment in their public schools is money well spent.
- Inform/prepare citizens properly.
- Raise the revenue limit.
- Advocate for more stable/predictable state aid.
- Continue to operate effectively and efficiently and focus on student achievement.
- Urge the public to be involved, knowledgeable and communicate with our legislators.
- Form a local advocacy group.
- Pass local referenda.
- Elect state officials who value and support public education.
What has to happen at the state level in order to build support for stable, predictable funding to allow your district to get to where you want it to be?
- Approve “Fair Funding” proposal.
- State officials that better understand and appreciate public education’s role in developing good citizens.
- Stable standards and testing system.
- Shift goal from lowering taxes to providing the best education possible as evidenced by ACT and other scores/measures.
- Assistance with special education, transportation and technology.
- Provide incentives to students to become teachers.
- More respect/support for education & educators.
- End voucher programs and invest sufficiently in one education system..
- Preserve local control and school district autonomy.