The governor’s proposed biennial budget includes an additional $20 million for public schools, but also reflects rising costs and targets some funding to special initiatives like help for implementing standards-based diplomas and teacher evaluation systems.
The rising costs in the K-12 budget include normal retirement costs for teachers, which are going up by $7.5 million. The biennial budget passed in 2013 shifted those costs, which at the time were all paid by the state, onto school districts. This coming year they are projected at just over $37 million.
The budget also includes the cost of having the state fund 100 percent of charter school tuitions, thereby eliminating the local share. While the cost is not broken out in the budget, it is estimated in the $5-$6 million range based on current enrollments. Language to make that change in state law is not included in the budget, but is expected.
The budget also creates outside of General Purpose Aid a special fund to encourage consolidation of administrative services. Specifically the budget provides $5 million each year of the biennium to pay up-front costs for efforts that reduce school administrative costs long term. Districts would have to apply for the funds.
The proposed budget is just the first step in a long process where the governor’s proposal goes to the Appropriations Committee, which can and does make amendments, and then to the full Legislature. Estimated costs in the budget also will be adjusted as more up-to-date information becomes available.