WSWHE Chief School Officers' 2018 Legislative Priorities
Fund and Adjust the Foundation Formula
The Foundation Aid Formula was put in place several years ago as part of an effort to provide for a transparent, equitable and reliable funding stream for school districts. It was designed to supplement other forms of district revenue, specifically the local tax levy. With the implementation of the tax levy cap, it is critical that the Foundation Aid Formula be adequately funded. Recommended changes include, but are not limited to the following:
- Review and Update the Foundation Amount - currently $6,340 per pupil.
- Since the great recession, area school districts have seen a notable increase in the Free and Reduced Rate for School Lunch (FRPL) count. The Foundation Aid Formula was designed prior to the “great recession” and the tax cap. Adjust the weighting factor for Free and Reduced Lunch to reflect large increases in this population.
- Reduce the Income Wealth Index.
- Maintain the “SAVE Harmless” provision. Many districts have lost enrollment, however, the enrollment decrease is generally not sufficient to further decrease staffing.
- Provide a minimum increase in foundation aid to all school districts.
Increase the $30,000 Threshold on BOCES Aid for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide students with essential skills that prepare them for college and careers. However, the existing state aid formula for CTE programs operated by BOCES only provides aid for the first $30,000 of a BOCES instructor’s salary, although the average salary of a CTE teacher is now $65,000. The current salary cap was established in 1992 and must be increased to ensure that students have access to the CTE pathway by providing 100 percent aid ability for the salaries of CTE teachers.
Small Group Insurance
The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) required states to change the definition of what constitutes a small group for purposes of health insurance from the previous classification of those with between 1-50 employees to those with 51-100 employees. As a result, many school districts and other municipal corporations that had 51-100 employees would have encountered significant increases in health care costs because they would have been forced to leave their Health Care Consortiums or Trusts and enter the community pool. To prevent this from happening, create a carve out provision, to allow all school districts with 51-100 or more employees to continue to participate in an experience rated Health Care Consortium or Trust.
Building Aid for Small Capital Projects
Current law allows school districts to be reimbursed for base year capital outlay expenses for one project each year that has a total cost of $100,000 or less without being subject to the lengthy assumed amortization schedule that otherwise exists. This helps districts to undertake smaller, but important capital projects, receive aid much quicker, while saving the State money on interest payments. Because the threshold amount of $100,000 was established in 2002 and not increased since that time, raising the threshold amount to $250,000 would assist districts in making critical capital improvements.