|More than $1 billion in state General Purpose Aid for public schools appears to be in limbo until legislators return to Augusta to vote on a bill that would allow that subsidy to start going out to districts beginning in July.
L.D. 1869, An Act To Establish the Total Cost of Education and the State and Local Contributions to Education for Fiscal Year 2018-19 and To Provide That Employees of School Management and Leadership Centers Are Eligible To Participate in the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, was tabled in the Senate when the Legislature adjourned without extending their session to deal with pending bills.
School Board members and superintendents are urged to contact their legislators now and ask their leaders to find a way to allow a vote on the bill. A list of all House and Senate members and their contact information is available by clicking on this link: Your Legislator.
Explain to your legislators school budgets are being passed now based on the funding promised in the biennial budget and uncertainty will be disruptive. It also would put an inordinate burden on local property taxpayers if state funding were altered now.
In the school year that starts on July 1, the budget essentially splits the cost of education roughly 50-50 between local taxpayers and the state. The split varies district by district based on property values and enrollment.
While state funding was set last year in the biennial budget, the cost of education, the required local mill rate and the state and local share are approved every year in some type of budget bill. Funding supports the operation of local public schools and public charter schools.
The DOE is exploring options, but at this point none are clear other than legislation.
L.D. 1869 was tabled in the Senate over a partisan divide on an amendment to the bill when the Legislature unexpectedly shut down after a vote to extend the session past its official adjournment date failed.
Please ask your legislators to find a way to come back to Augusta and authorize the release of state school funding by approving L.D. 1869. MSMA will keep school boards and superintendents apprised through updates.