School finance committee narrows focus on education funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The State Board of Education’s committee on school finance and funding outlined six areas of concern to report to the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) to consider to improve education funding at its meeting this week.

The committee concluded that student needs have changed dramatically over the last several years and changes have not been made to the state funding formula to equitably and adequately meet those needs.

The opioid crisis is one of many external factors that are requiring a renewed commitment and reassessment of meeting student needs within the public education system.

The committee unanimously agreed on the following six preliminary recommendations:

  1. Increase compensation/funding for formula Steps 1 and 2. This could include an increase in the number of positions for and the compensation of those positions for professional educators and service personnel.
  2. Provide adequate funding for Step 6a to allow districts to adequately maintain the facilities that house the students.
  3. Address the rising costs for substitute professional educators (Step 6b and 6c) that greatly increase actual costs and disrupt classroom learning. This problem has progressively worsened as more educators enter the workforce without the ability to bank sick days and convert them for pension benefits.
  4. Increase the faculty senate reimbursement (Step 6d) of $200 per instructional personnel and professional student support personnel, which has not been changed for many years and has not kept up with inflation.
  5. Increase the number of counselors and nurses funded through the state aid formula (Step 5) to help address the physical and mental health needs of students, which continue to grow. These positions are vital for student health and success and minimizing disruption in the classroom.
  6. Increase funding for career technical education (CTE) and alternative education, both of which are great demands for schools.

The preliminary report will be presented to the WVBE at its next meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15 for informational and discussion purposes.

“I commend the work of the committee members who have dedicated time to identifying priorities that can positively impact students and schools,” Board Member and Chair of the committee Tom Campbell said.

“Equity in funding has been a major focus for West Virginia for many years. However, the committee feels that student needs cannot be fairly met based only on enrollment numbers. We must also ensure the funding formula addresses adequate resources to school districts in order to provide a thorough and efficient education to all students and meet the needs of the students of today.”

In addition to State Board of Education members, the committee includes representatives from the West Virginia Association of School Administrators (WVASA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-WV), the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), an elementary school principal, a high school principal and the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Finance.

The next meeting of the school finance and funding committee will be at 10 a.m. on November 27, 2018 in Capitol Building 6, Room 353 (State Board Room), 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.

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