Legislative Update 07/28/2017

School Omnibus Signed By the Governor

Last week the Governor signed the final School Aid Budget for FY 17-18. The Governor used his line item veto authority to strike several categoricals from the budget including an online mathematics program in Sec. 99u, digital assessment preparation in Sec. 104e, and civics education in Sec. 99c.

The Governors signing letter indicated that some boilerplate language included in the budget was unenforceable. Specifically, the new section that would penalize districts by 5% if they enter into a CBA that gives racial or religious preferences, automatically deducts union dues or is in conflict with state or federal law regarding district transparency was deemed unenforceable.

Below you will find the highlights of the FY 17-18 budget. Please contact us with any questions.

Foundation Allowance: The foundation allowance was increased by $60-$120 using the 2x formula. This brings the minimum foundation grant from $7,511 to $7,687 and the maximum foundation allowance from $8,229 to $8289.

High-School Funding: The final conference report included $25 per pupil for students in grades 9-12.

At-Risk Funding: Increases funding for at-risk pupils by $120m, bringing the total funding to $499m. Amends the formula for distribution and allows Hold Harmless and Out of Formula districts to receive a maximum of 30% of the funding.

Early Literacy Grants: Increases funding for literacy coaches from $3m to $6m. Rolls up the rest of the funding for department implementation, professional development, diagnostic tools funding, and added instructional time. Distributes the funding in an amount equal to $210 per 1st grade FTE.

GSRP Curriculum Flexibility:  Added more local flexibility in GSRP with respect to curriculum options, and MDE will be asking Public Sector Consultants to do an outside review of all aspects of the program to see if additional reforms are warranted.

School Based Health Centers: Increases funding for School Based Health Centers by $500,000 bringing the total funding to $5.5m

Shared Time Instruction for Nonpublic and Home-school Pupils: The conference report funds the shared time program but caps the maximum FTE for which a nonpublic school pupil may be counted in a shared-time program at 0.75 FTE.

Educator Evaluations: Does not include funding for educator evaluations

Math and Science Centers: Maintains current law but adds language indicating that this is the final year for funding the program as it is currently structured. The current program will phase out by the end of June 2018 and will be replaced by a MiStem Network. Funding for a new Executive Director and staff of the MiStem Network is included in the budget. This new team will consult with certain interest groups to determine, among other duties, the total number of centers, which will be operational by April 1, 2018.

School Reform/Redesign Office: The conference report removes funding for the School Reform Office.

Partnership Districts: The report funds the partnership agreement line item at $6m.

School Bus Driver Safety Instruction: Increases funding for school bus driver safety by $400,000.

Kindergarten Entry Observation Tool: Funded at $1 million for implementation in 3 prosperity regions in the 2018 school year.

Non-Public-School Reimbursements: Appropriates $2.5m to reimburse nonpublic schools for the costs of complying with state statute.

MPSERS Cost Offset: Maintains current year funding of $100m to offset a share of MPSERS cost.

MPSERS Reserve Fund: Deposits $55m in a MPSERS reserve fund, appropriates $23.1m from the fund for reimbursement of first year costs associated with the recently passed MPSERS legislation.

MPSERS Debt Payment: Appropriates $200m to pay down MPSERS debt according to the agreement on the recently passed MPSERS legislation.

Boilerplate Revisions:

At-risk: Eliminates new metrics requiring districts to use at-risk funds for 4 goals or metrics. The metrics that were eliminated included: chronic absenteeism, ELA proficiency in grade 3, Math proficiency in grade 8, and at least 65% of pupil enroll in a CTE, AP, IB, or dual enrollment program and that at least 80% of those pupils successfully complete the courses. The conference report also removes the requirement for MDE partnerships for districts that did not meet the 4 goals listed above.

Special Education in Cyber Schools: Revises Sec. 51a to require that the ISD where the cyber school is located flow IDEA funds to the cyber school and provide monitoring and compliance for eligible students at the school.

Legal Action Against the State: Establishes a penalty for district or ISDs that spends School Aid money to initiate legal action against the state.

Labor Day Waiver Hearing: Establishes a new requirement for a district requesting a waiver to start before Labor Day. The district must hold a joint hearing with MDE in the district before the waiver can be granted.

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