State lawmakers have nearly worked out a budget deal that includes modest funding increases for K-12 schools, community colleges and higher education, but several policy changes – including one to punish so-called “partnership” schools in struggling communities – may be holding up the process and should not be included in the spending plan.
Contact your representative and senator to urge passage of these funding increases without further education policy changes that can and should be handled separately from the budget process.
For example, the Senate’s version of the budget included language punishing the lowest-scoring schools that do not meet increasing benchmarks after three years. Punishments include closure or “reconstitution” that would require cancellation of teachers’ contracts and appointment of an unelected panel to replace the school board.
Partnership districts were championed by state Superintendent Brian Whiston, who passed away in May, as a way to avoid school closures and provide needed supports for districts challenged by high poverty and high student needs.
Such an important policy decision should be debated in a separate bill, not tucked in the pages of a budget deal.
State lawmakers have been meeting over the past few weeks to work out differences between House and Senate spending plans.
K-12 schools are expected to receive an increase of $120-$240 per pupil in the 2019 budget, a welcome increase but far short of the nearly $2,000 per pupil spending shortfall that numerous recent studies have identified.