The Time Is NOW! Fund Our Schools!
The Bartlesville district is not finished in our effort to secure additional school funding.
We are sending targeted delegations of our teachers and community supporters to work with legislators in crafting bills on wind energy revenues which could be targeted to schools. There is a bill to cap existing wind energy credits we are supporting.
The Governor signed into law significant school pay raises, but they are threatened with repeal
We tracked a series of bills the legislature passed. The revenue side was originally almost identical to the original Bartlesville/Time Is Now plan.
The expenditure side in the linked bills provides an average teacher raise of $6,100 and a mandated school support employee raise of $1,250. There is also enough money appropriated to cover the school employee Flexible Benefit Allowance increase for FY19. It also restores $33 million in textbook funding.
Where the education funding plan fell short was it only provides $17 million in other operational funding, which is less than the $22 million in such funding the state cut in February.
The initial revenue bills were a historic achievement: it was the first time since 1992 that a tax increase passed the legislature with the 75% super-majority.
HOWEVER a group spearheaded by former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who has no state government experience, is planning to file a petition referendum to repeal the funding for the teacher raises. It appears they have until July 19 to gather over 40,000 signatures to force their referendum onto the general election ballot in November.
A successful petition effort this summer, even if voters supported the teacher raises in November, could delay teacher raises until 2019, robbing teachers statewide of thousands of dollars in expected raises while prolonging and probably worsening the statewide teacher shortage.
So what is funded, and what is missing?
Governor Fallin has signed into law about $530 million in new revenue, thanks in no small part to the original Time Is Now/Bartlesville plan.
$480 million of that new revenue has been appropriated to fully fund the teacher pay raise, school employee pay raise, textbook funding, and a bit more operational funding, while paying for the increase in school employee Flexible Benefit Allowances for FY19.
NEW REVENUES SIGNED INTO LAW
HB 1010xx: $451 million + HB 1011xx: $89 million = $540 million
LESS the HB 1012xx repeal of $50 million in lodging fees = $490 million
PLUS $20 million more via HB 1019xx from 3rd party online sales = $510 million
PLUS $20 million more via HB 3375 from gaming = $530 million
SCHOOL APPROPRIATIONS SIGNED INTO LAW
Teacher pay raise: $353,501,793
Support pay raise: $52,000,000
Flexible Benefit Allowance increase: $24,687,149
State Aid Formula: $17,000,000
ALSO SIGNED INTO LAW OUTSIDE OF EDUCATION
State Worker Pay Raise: $63,765,398
The school funding crisis is not over. Next steps:
Even teacher salaries that will be $5,001-$8,395 higher next year will NOT be high enough to stop the drain of teachers to Texas overall and to large metro areas in Kansas and Arkansas. There is also NOT anywhere near enough additional operational funding in the measures to undo all of the damage done over the past decade to class sizes, teacher training, instructional supplies, and lost electives. We also still have more than 1 out of 6 districts with 4-day school weeks.
Bartlesville led this historic improvement for our schools from the start, and we will continue to lead.
Our next recommendation is to fund a legislative interim study after this session, much like the ones which led to HB 1017 in 1990, to identify the priority reforms which should be restored and how much funding would be needed. That should then bring another concerted effort to raise new revenues and/or direct growth revenues accordingly in FY20 and beyond.
Some initial reform targets could be:
- Restoration of the old class size limits, with funding for all of the additional teaching positions that will require.
- Revisiting curriculum requirements, with a focus on funding restoration of world language courses and other lost electives.
- Reforming instructional time requirements by:
- eliminating or restricting the days-to-minutes conversion method and/or
- increasing the number of required minutes or days and tying that to continued salary increases and/or
- eliminating 4-day school weeks
- Restoration of the consolidation incentive to reduce the number of school districts statewide
- Restoration of funding for mentoring and professional development, particularly for emergency-certified teachers
- State funding for student instructional technology to support take-home 1:1 devices for all secondary school students, 1:1 classroom devices for upper elementary school students, and 1:2 classroom devices for lower elementary school students