In early September, we presented a Desk Audit of the Arkansas school funding system to a summer meeting of the Joint House and Education Committees. The report included an analysis, written by Scott Price the newly appointed chief financial officer of the Los Angeles County Office of Education and a Picus Odden and Associates consultant, of the next steps the state should consider in providing broadband fiber optic access to all schools in the state.
Over the course of 2014, Picus Odden and Associates conducted an adequacy study for Kentucky. The study was prepared for the Council for Better Education, and advised by a Task Force of leading Kentucky educators.
The project included review by several professional judgment panels and periodic briefing of key political leaders in the state’s capital. Both the substantive study and its financial implications were released in final form in late 2014.
We presented the first part of our recalibration report of North Dakota’s school funding system to the Interim Committee on Education Funding on January 28. The previous day, January 27, Odden also was the keynote speaker for the North Dakota Council of School Administrators discussing the same report.
In the 2013 legislature session, the Legislature took the adequacy number from the firm’s 2008 study, $7,293, and updated it with a 3.2 percent annual inflator over six years for an estimated foundation expenditure number for the 2013-14 school year of $8,810. The recalibration report used a method similar to the 2008 report to determine adequate staffing needs for the 2013-14 school year, and several different ways to place prices on each element, to estimate a recalibrated figure for 2013-14 and subsequent years.
In the final Recalibration Report, presented to the Interim Committee in early June, we recommended increasing the per student amount because of rising pension and health care costs. The report also recommended increasing the weight for at-risk and ELL students. At its final meeting on October 15, 2014, the Committee approved a bill to be submitted to the 2015 legislature that proposes the largest increase in education funding in the state’s history, hiking the per student amount to to $9,482 for 2015-16 and another $390 to $9,766 in 2016-17, as well as increasing the weights for both at-risk (the percent of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch) and ELL students.
We began 2014 with a report to the Maine Legislature on our study of the adequacy of the state’s school funding system. The report induced the legislature to begin begin debating how to enhance funding for Preschool, professional development, and resources to provide extra help to students from low-income backgrounds.
Picus prepared a paper entitled Funding Vermont Schools for the Future and moderated a school funding symposium hosted by Vermont’s Governor, Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House at St. Michael’s College in Colchester on January 14, 2014. The symposium included a six-member expert panel discussion and several small group work sessions designed to evaluate possible options for the State of Vermont’s financing and tax systems to make it sustainable in the long run as well as to insure its fairness to students and taxpayers.