ESEA Reauthorization: Where are we headed?
The Obama Administration has released its “blueprint” for ESEA reauthorization. What’s in it? This article summarizes some of the major concepts.

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2010 Legislature:
Per-student allocation stays steady

Legislators returned to Pierre earlier this week to finalize the state budget. K-12 education will not receive an increase in funding for FY 2011, which means the per-student allocation will remain at $4,804.60 for another year.

The Legislature also approved a $300,000 cut to the DDN portion of the Schools in Technology budget and a $500,000 cut to Education Service Agencies, effectively eliminating state funding of ESAs.

“Legislators were in a tough situation this year, and they’ll likely be in a tough situation again next year,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “While we weren’t expecting an increase in the formula, we had hoped legislators would be able to avoid making the cuts to DDN and ESAs.”

According to Oster, the cut to the DDN budget, which includes everything from e-mail service and Internet access to two-way video conferencing, should not interrupt services to schools. “The Bureau of Information and Telecommunications has stated that they will be able to incorporate efficiencies that will absorb the $300,000. We’ve been assured that service to schools will remain the same,” Oster said.

During the session, legislators did pass several bills designed to ease the financial situation for some districts. HB 1108 allows districts to have a 40 percent fund balance cap through FY 14. But it prohibits a district from growing its fund balance between FY 11 and 15.

HB 1020 and 1021 give districts some flexibility in spending special education dollars, and HB 1248 requires that districts with growing enrollments be paid for those students in the current year – rather than having to wait a year.

Beyond funding bills, the Legislature passed approximately a dozen bills that impact schools. For a summary of education-related bills passed during the 2010 Legislature, click here.