Mar 04, 2015

Formula Follows Task Force Recommendations Amidst Significant Budget Reductions

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Department of Education today proposed to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) a Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula that includes a 1.375 percent increase, totaling $36 million, to protect against a drop in teacher compensation, while also providing $8 million in new investment for students with disabilities and students taking “dual enrollment” college courses and career education courses. While the proposals fall short of the traditionally considered 2.75 percent increase, they protect teacher pay raises funded in 2013.

The proposed formula reflects a package of recommendations made in December by the MFP Task Force. If BESE passes the formula at its meeting Friday, March 6, it will be considered by the Legislature, which can ask BESE to modify the formula before final passage.

The Department will thus recommend that BESE request a regular update from the Legislature as to the status of the budget so that the board can reconsider, if necessary, the size of the requested increase as the legislative session progresses.

The $44 million proposal adds to $34.46 million in Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive budget meant to fund estimated growth in the state’s student population from 2014 to 2015.

Keeping with Task Force recommendations, the Department also recommended that the board dedicate $140,000 previously considered for studying the state’s pension system to conducting a comprehensive study of the MFP’s structure and alignment with education costs. Recommendations from this study would inform the policies of a future Governor, Legislature and BESE.

“In challenging fiscal times, we have to make hard choices,” said State Superintendent John White. “This proposal protects high-need students and classroom educators.”

Below are details on the four proposed changes to the MFP formula:

  • An increase of 1.375 percent in the base per pupil rate of revenue in the formula, yielding a projected $36 million for local schools and school systems. This is the same amount of funding the state provided for teacher raises in 2013.In any district planning not to sustain pay raises instituted in 2013 because of a lack of funding, these funds would be required to sustain the increase.

  • An increase in the high-cost services pool of $5.4 million, the amount needed to cover unmet cost of serving students with significant disabilities.

  • Raising the Course Choice weight from $26 to $35 per student, to meet demand for dual enrollment and career courses not traditionally offered in high schools. This year, more than 19,000 students are taking courses through the higher education system and other course providers. This adds $2.6 million to the formula.

  • Repurposing $140,000 from a planned study of TRSL to a recommended study of the MFP formula, its structure, and its alignment with real education costs. This study was discussed and broadly supported at a recent gubernatorial candidates’ forum.

For a copy of the proposed 2015-2016 MFP formula, click here.

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