Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

March 11 , 2005

Joint Committee on Education completes initial foundation formula proposal

With the threat of a lawsuit looming and continued criticism that the current formula is neither equitable nor adequately funded, the new plan tries to address the equity question but gives less attention to the funding side of the equation. It is estimated that the new formula would cost about $546 million in new funds, but the plan will be phased in over a period of years. If lawmakers adopted the current plan this session, Gov. Blunt has already recommended a $170 million increase in elementary and secondary education funding for the first phase.

The committee proposal shifts the funding calculation to a cost per-pupil basis, beginning with an average cost of educating a child and then adjusting that dollar figure up depending on local levy amount, number of children in free and reduced lunch or learning disability programs, and several other factors. The most frequent criticism of the new plan was that it penalizes districts that have already raised local levies to a higher amount, which is the opposite of the current formula. The Senate Education Committee will begin hearings on the Shields plan on Tuesday, March 15, and a special House committee to rewrite the formula will begin tackling the new plan on Monday, March 14.

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