JFC-Approved K-12 Package Increases Per Pupil Aid; Boosts Low Spending Districts

The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) today approved the K-12 education provisions of the 2017-19 state budget on a 12-4 party-line vote.  The $639 million GOP K-12 package includes the following key provisions:

Per Pupil Categorical Aid Funding Increase—Provide all districts with an increase of $200 per pupil in 2017-18 and $204 per pupil in 2018-19.  Payments would total $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 per pupil in 2018-19.

Payments would be $630 per pupil in 2019-20 and each year thereafter as like under the governor’s proposal $24 of the 2018-19 payment would be one-time funding and would not be added to the permanent base funding for this aid, going forward.

Delete the proposal to require school district to certify to DPI in each of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years that employees of the school district will be required to pay at least 12 percent of all costs and payments associated with employee health care coverage plans in that school year. Instead, require districts to report annually to the state Department of Administration (DOA) regarding employee health care, including health care plan design, premium contributions, self-insurance contributions, deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, and other methods by which employees contribute to health care costs. Require DOA to report this information annually to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) and the appropriate standing committees of the Legislature.

Low Revenue Ceiling– Increase the low revenue adjustment under revenue limits from the current law $9,100 per pupil to $9,300 per pupil in 2017-18, $9,400 per pupil in 2018-19, $9,500 per pupil in 2019-20, $9,600 per pupil in 2020-21, $9,700 per pupil in 2021-22, and $9,800 per pupil in 2022-23 and each year thereafter.

Districts with per pupil revenue authority below the dollar amount of the ceiling could increase their local levy up to this ceiling without referendum approval.

Revenue Limits—Maintain current law.  No per pupil adjustment in revenue limits in either year.

Revenue Limit Adjustment for Energy Efficiency Measures—Modify the governor’s proposal, which had called for eliminating this adjustment, to instead keep this adjustment on the books but prohibit districts from adopting a resolution to utilize the adjustment between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.

Scheduling of School District Referenda–Beginning January 1, 2018, school district referenda would be limited to being held only on regularly-scheduled election days (spring primary or general election or partisan fall primary or general election), with the exception that a school district could hold a referendum on the 2nd Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years.  Districts are restricted to holding referenda on, at most, two dates per year.

Provide an emergency exception under which a school district that has experienced a natural disaster, including a fire, that causes the school district’s costs to increase, could call a special referendum to be held within the six-month period immediately following the natural disaster, provided the special referendum would be held not sooner than 70 days after the adoption of the initial resolution.  These natural disaster-related referenda would not count against the two-date limit or be limited to the dates listed above.  These provisions would apply to resolutions to exceed the revenue limits or issue bonds that are adopted after January 1, 2018.

Sparsity Aid—Fully fund payments at $300 per pupil to districts that are eligible under current law eligibility criteria (fewer than 745 students and 10 students per square mile). Provide that any district that qualified for sparsity aid in one year but did not qualify the following year would receive 50% of its prior year award in the year in which it became ineligible for sparsity aid.  

Delete the Governor’s proposal to increase sparsity aid from $300 to $400 per pupil and to provide $100 per pupil for districts with between 745 and 1,000 and a population density of fewer than 10 pupils per square mile.

High Cost Transportation Aid— Expand the program to apply to transportation cost above 145% of the statewide average, rather than 150% as under current law.  Provide that any district that qualified for high cost transportation aid in one year but did not qualify the following year with aid in an amount equal to 50% of its prior year award in the year in which it became ineligible. Specify that the sum of all payments under this 50% of the prior year provision could not exceed $200,000 and that the state superintendent could prorate these payments if necessary.

Special Education Categorical Aid— Maintain current law.  No adjustment to funding for this aid in either year.

High Cost Special Education Aid—Provide that school districts may qualify for reimbursement of up to 90% of eligible prior year costs above $30,000 per pupil rather than 70% under current law. Would first apply to aid paid in the 2017-18 school year.

School Mental Health Aid—Provide $3 million per year and allow private voucher schools to participate in the program.

Community and Mental Health Collaboration Grants—Increase funding by $750,000 per year beginning in 2018-19, up from the $2.5 million per year provided in the Governor’s bill, for a total of $3.25 million.

Require DPI to establish a competitive grant program open to school boards and independent charter school operators for the purpose of collaborating with community mental health agencies to provide services to pupils.  Lays out criteria DPI must include in the grant awarding criteria developed, requires the state superintendent to establish an advisory committee to make recommendations on criteria, and requires DPI to award at least $3.25 million in grants each school year beginning in 2018-19.

MA Consultation Regarding Student Mental Health–Provide $610,000 in Medical Assistance (MA) funding to cover the estimated cost of providing MA reimbursement  for clinical consultations between mental health practitioners and school personnel involving students up to age 21.  Clinical consultation benefits were added by a previous JFC motion; however, no funding was provided at that time.

Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants—Provide $9.2 million annually, beginning in 2018-19, for state matching grants for personal electronic computing devices. These grants would be available for public schools, charter schools, tribal schools, and all private schools.  Grants would equal $125 per 9th grade pupil.  Applicants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of DPI that they would provide equal matching funds as a condition of receiving a grant.  DPI must prorate grant payments if funding becomes insufficient.

Grants can be used for:

  • purchase of devices;
  • software for devices;
  • curriculum that can be accessed on a personal device;
  • staff training to effectively incorporate devices.

Stay tuned for follow-up posts on other areas of the budget package, including:

  • Vouchers/Charters/Open Enrollment
  • Whole Grade Sharing/Consolidation aid
  • Teacher Licensure
  • Opportunity School Partnership Program (OSPP)
  • Miscellaneous Additional Provisions