Senate Bill 1

After Senate Bill 16 died in the House last session, sponsors of the education funding bill rebooted it as the newly released Senate Bill 1, keeping much of the same language.

Like Senate Bill 16, the bill introduces a new formula to fund education throughout the state and includes some pension reform.

But local school leaders still aren’t sold on this new version.

“The impact on District 204 is not in the same range as the previous bill. But still, at first blush it does not look like a bill we can support,” said Superintendent, Karen Sullivan.

District 203 shared a similar sentiment. Director of Communications for District 203, Michelle Fregoso, expressed in a statement.

“District Administration is still analyzing what is in the bill and how the calculations are determined. Some models published include ‘what if’ scenarios that must be approved through separate legislation. What we do know right now is that SB1 would eliminate even more of the limited dollars available from the State to support District 203 students. And, we are concerned with any legislation to change funding that does not take into account adequate funding for education,” said Fregoso.

Under the bill’s formula, funding would still be cut from higher income school districts, and be redistributed to lower income districts.

However factors such as grants for high income and low spending schools, could give local districts a break. But the 204 school board isn’t confident.

“It’s a separate appropriation from the rest of the formula, than the rest of the formula and that isn’t a comforting thought to me. That it is a separate appropriation,” said Sullivan.

If Senate Bill 1 is passed, it could trigger a pension cost shift as early as fiscal year 2016, taking a huge chunk out of budgets.

“When you think of pension cost shift, it’s not just teacher salaries its administrator salaries its substitute salaries, its stipends, extended contracts, its extra hours, its all earnings for T.R.S. employees. The 2% cost shift is 3.6 million dollars and you can see that grows as the pension goes on,” said the District’s Director of Business, Jay Strang.

District 204 could see about $5.8 million cut from their budget if the bill becomes law.

A decision on Senate Bill 1 could come as early as May.

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