Wednesday, February 21, 2024

BESE approves increase in school funding formula

by BIZ Magazine

Includes provision to help raise Louisiana teacher salaries to southern average

Today the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) unanimously approved the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula for the 2020-21 school year, increasing the amount of state funds allocated to public schools by approximately $80 million. The approved MFP includes a 2.75 percent increase to the statewide base per pupil amount, from $4,015 to $4,125. The increase includes a provision that requires schools and school districts where the average annual teacher salary is below the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) average to dedicate half of the increase to teacher pay raises.

“The teacher pay raise provision builds on the commitment expressed last year to ensure that the salaries of Louisiana teachers are brought up to the regional average,” said BESE President Sandy Holloway. “The formula sets a solid starting point in the funding process for 2020-21, and our Board looks forward to working with the Legislature to meet the financial needs of all Louisiana students and school districts.”

Current projections indicate that 50 local districts and 40 charter schools would be required to dedicate funds to a pay raise. The raises are expected to total $25 million of the estimated $80 million generated by the 2.75 percent funding increase. All districts receive varying amounts for pay raises dependent on their unique situations, including student enrollment counts, the number of students qualifying for weighted categories, and local tax revenues.

The MFP defines the cost of educating all public school students in Louisiana. The state’s constitution requires BESE to develop a formula for distributing state funds to public schools and submit it to the Louisiana Legislature each year. The final resolution outlining the formula approved by BESE today will be sent to the Legislature for consideration by March 15.

The formula adopted by the Board aligns with the recommendations of the MFP Task Force, which is comprised of a diverse membership of Louisiana education stakeholders. The task force provided guidance on identifying priorities and improving the formula to ensure the most equitable method of funding public education for the coming year.

BESE’s funding proposal also includes support for certified mentor teachers through an annual allocation of $2,000 per mentor teacher. These experienced local educators share their knowledge and skills to effectively coach and support new and resident teachers in their district, and are an important part of the state’s educational leadership pipeline.

Also at this week’s meetings, BESE recognized outgoing State Superintendent John White with a special resolution thanking him for his service to Louisiana’s students and educators, and recognizing the significant progress the state has made during his eight-year tenure. The Board also ratified the authorization of the appointment of Louisiana Department of Education Deputy Superintendent of management and Finance Beth Scioneaux as acting State Superintendent until White’s successor is appointed by BESE, in accordance with R.S. 36:646.

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