BESE considers 2012-13 La. school funding formula
The state's top education board was slated today to take under consideration a $3.4 billion public school funding formula that would keep spending per student flat for a fourth straight year. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a special meeting to talk about the proposal, which is supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The complex funding formula for the 2012-13 school year would grow by $32 million, but only because it would include more students as public school enrollment continues to grow. Jindal's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is short $11 million of what it would take to cover the cost of the formula, according to Education Department estimates. If BESE approves the spending plan for the state's 70 school districts, the debate would shift to state lawmakers, who can only approve or reject the formula submitted by the state board; lawmakers cannot change the spending plan, called the Minimum Foundation Program. Local education leaders and unions have complained that the formula in recent years hasn't included the traditional 2.75% boost for each public school student. Superintendents have said they don't have the money to cover rising health and retirement costs without the extra funding. Among the more controversial features of the proposal before the education board is a push by the Jindal administration and its allies to include money for a voucher program. Approval of a spending plan with the voucher program included would be seen as BESE's support for creation of a statewide voucher system, and it would keep the program safe from budget cuts because lawmakers can't remove or change individual items in the formula.
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