North Carolina spends $7.9 billion on K-12 education. Much of that money is distributed to LEAs and local schools through 13 different formulas. Doubtless, the average citizen finds many of these formulas dated, convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. To remedy these issues, the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Public School Funding Formulas has been meeting for the past several months in hopes of improving how the state distributes money to the schools. This past Thursday the committee issued its interim report. Some of the committee’s recommendations include:
· Mentoring Allotment – The commission recommends a significant expansion to the current Mentor Pay program ($8.1 million) to provide mentors for all first and second year teachers and instructional personnel. The committee also wants the state to pick up the tab for mentors for teachers as well as those who aren’t paid by the state (Why?). The cost to provide mentors to all first and second year teachers and instructional personnel: $7.9 million. I see little evidence touting the success of such programs. Double the money and give LEAs more flexibility in spending? It doesn’t sound like a good plan.
· Transportation – Funding inconsistencies between LEAs have occupied much of the committee’s time. To remedy an immediate shortfall in funding due to the rapid escalation in gas prices, the committee recommends transferring $47 million from general fund estimates and another $7.5 million to a reserve fund to cover additional increases in costs.
· Education Lottery Reserve –To compensate for counties that don’t qualify for Education Lottery supplemental proceeds, the committee recommends using $32 million from lottery reserve and distributing it to districts to equalize the ADM distribution for FY07-08. Yes, there are things wrong with the current formula, but this proposal is much worse than the problem.
Reviewing all thirteen funding formulas is a large task and won’t be finished this year. The highlighted recommendations and the inevitable tweaking are sure to keep the committee in the news. More later.