Ed Money Watch

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Friday News Roundup: Week of January 17-21

Published:  January 21, 2011

At Ed Money Watch, we discuss and analyze major issues affecting education funding. In our Friday News Roundup, we try to highlight interesting stories that might otherwise get overlooked. These stories emphasize how federal and state policy changes can affect local schools and districts.

New Hampshire Bill Would Narrowly Define ‘Adequate Education’

Faced with Deep Cuts, South Dakota Universities Consider Layoffs

Arizona Lawmakers Propose Cutting the School Year for Cost Savings

Colorado Budget Panel Votes to Deny Supplemental Funding for School Breakfast Program

New Hampshire Bill Would Narrowly Define ‘Adequate Education’
New Hampshire State Representative Ralph Boehm this week introduced a bill that would narrowly define what constitutes an “adequate education” in the state. Under his bill, only English, math, science, social studies, and physical education would be included in this definition. The definition matters because a state court ruling required lawmakers to determine what constitutes an adequate education and fully fund it. Although lawmakers determined that an adequate education costs $3,450 per student, Boehm believes the amount is actually much higher. To prevent a significant rise in state funding for education, Boehm proposes that state money should go only toward core subjects that will prepare students to enter the workforce. He claims that local school boards will foot the bill for excluded programs like art, technology, health, or foreign languages. Opponents worry that, given the difficult choices facing communities, local voters won’t be able to prioritize funding for these education programs over other needs. Boehm’s bill also would require the legislature to approve New Hampshire’s use of Common Core standards before implementing them because he believes the state should determine its own standards. More here…

Faced with Deep Cuts, South Dakota Universities Consider Layoffs
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has vowed to eliminate the state’s $127 million budget deficit by making cuts across every state agency. The proposal would cut the state’s higher education budget for fiscal year 2012 by $17 million cut from current levels. Schools won’t likely be able to make up for the cuts through tuition and fee hikes, and have already instituted hiring freezes due to cuts made over the past two years. In addition, a pay freeze over the past two years means that cutting staff salaries is not an option either. Now, university presidents feel there is nothing left but to lay off staff and faculty. Governor Daugaard’s cuts represent a worst-case scenario for colleges and universities. Before they make any decisions about their budgets they’ll wait for the state legislature to finalize its 2012 budget later this year. More here…

Arizona Lawmakers Propose Cutting the School Year for Cost Savings
Two Republican lawmakers in Arizona have crafted a piece of legislation that would provide districts with new flexibility for cutting costs. The most controversial piece of the legislation would cut the public school year by 10 days, to 170 school days per year. The proposal would maintain the same number of hours students are in school by extending the school day. Opponents worry that school districts would cut teacher salaries due to the shortened school year, despite the longer work day. They also point out that this would mean 10 more days every year when parents would have to find a way to supervise their children. The bill would also allow schools to use money from individual gifts toward staff development, supplies, and other one time costs. Gifts are currently restricted to use for extracurricular activities. More here…

Colorado Budget Panel Votes to Deny Supplemental Funding for School Breakfast Program
The Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee this week voted to deny a state Department of Education request for additional funding for the school breakfast program. The program provides free breakfast at schools to poor students. But growing numbers of students that qualify for free breakfasts and an increase in the number of schools that participate in the program mean that program funds have been used more quickly than expected. The state Department of Education requested an additional $124,229 in the current budget year to help pay for the estimated $768,210 cost for this school year. With the request denied, students participating in the program will have to start paying 30 cents per meal starting in March. More here…

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