Monday, October 18, 2010

Update: Will HB 3393 Cost School Districts Money?

In an earlier post I answered this question. Here I'm providing more detail.

The school districts that have recently voted to ignore House Bill 3393 have claimed that when a student transfers to a private school on the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program it will result in reduced funding for the public school program that that student is leaving. Under provision in HB 3393 a portion of the funding that had been going to the school district will follow the student to the private school of the parent’s choice in the form of a scholarship. Their contention is that the district will be stuck without the revenue to cover the fixed costs for services that they were providing to the student before they transferred out on a scholarship.

The reported that Doug Mann, the school board attorney for Broken Arrow, said about HB 3393, “The fact of the matter is that the program that that child was in still has to be funded but it now has less funding for that program.”

What they have failed to mention is that there has been a provision in law for years that helps districts address the fixed costs that remain for a period of time after a student leaves.

Section 18-200.1 of Title 70 (1) is the "State Aid" formula section of law. It sets out how the school funding formula is calculated. As stated in subsection A the formula is calculated using the "highest weighted average daily membership for the school district of the two (2) preceding school years". The intent of this provision was to lessen the impact for those school districts that have fluctuating or declining enrollment.

The fact is that these school districts are able to continue to count for funding purposes a student that has transferred out of the district for two years after the transfer. This provides enough time for districts to adjust their fixed costs in order to protect their programs.

(1) §70-18-200.1. A. "Beginning with the 1997-98 school year, and each school year thereafter, each school district shall have its initial allocation of State Aid calculated based on the state dedicated revenues actually collected during the preceding fiscal year, the adjusted assessed valuation of the preceding year and the highest weighted average daily membership for the school district of the two (2) preceding school years."
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