- Category: District
- Last Updated on Tuesday, February 25 2014 14:16
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As winter slowly moves into spring educational issues start to blossom (moisture not required). The legislative mandates from years past move to the forefront. Senate Bill 163 requires all students in grades three through eleven to take the TCAP and ACT tests which will take place over the next six weeks. Next year these testing requirements will expand to include grades two through twelve, and they will be referred to as the PARCC assessments. The testing window will encompass over 75 school days and this will not include our local building tests. SB 163 also requires all school districts to submit a unified improvement plan in April to justify our existence and explain how we are addressing the educational needs of our students. It is a time consuming process which fulfills a portion of our accountability requirement.
Senate Bill 191 also kicks into high gear this spring with state mandated evaluations of all certified teachers. For the first time one half of every teacher’s evaluation will be based on student achievement. Unfortunately, there is still a timing issue with getting the state test results which are given in the spring back to the districts in time to factor into the evaluation process which also take place in the spring.
The most paramount issue for all school districts is of course the need to begin planning next year’s budget. District budgets must be submitted by the end of June each year even though we do not know what the assessed valuation of the district is going to be nor do we know what our October enrollment will be. Districts are at the mercy of the Governor and the State Legislature when it comes to providing state equalization funding. As a result of the recession the state has systematically reduced school funding each of the last five years with something that we have eluded to in previous superintendent reports as the negative factor. This is the amount of money that the state is suppose to provide to public schools as determined by Amendment 23, but cannot afford to do so. Currently the joint budget committee is debating the budget which includes the school finance act. Once the JBC comes up with a budget it will move to each house of the state legislature. At this time there are several proposals being discussed. One is a demand by the superintendents of the state to buy back $275 million of the $1.2 billion dollar negative factor. The governor and the legislature are claiming that they do not have the revenue to do this, even though there is $1.6 billion in the education reserve account and there is an early projection of an additional $1.4 billion in new state revenue for 2014. We will be following this closely and will report back to you as more information is available. In the mean time we might be better off just praying for rain.