Albeit spring break, it has been a very busy week!
For starters, we successfully convinced the SBRC to permit us to use a portion of our unspent balance for start up costs associated with the statewide voluntary preschool.
But the even better news is that both flexibility bills that we have been advocating for and provided input on have passed through the House unanimously. HF565 would authorize the establishment of a school district flexibility account and allow for the transfer and expenditure of certain unexpended and unallocated categorical monies into the flexibility account by board resolution and public hearing to support other general fund areas. The bill also allows districts with a voluntary preschool program to utilize the flexibility account for initial start-up costs. HF564 provides for some flexibility for district categorical funds; professional development funds, as well as some additional flexibility in the use/expenditure of at-risk/dropout prevention dollars and preschool funds. The bill also removes the $2,500 minimum requirement to use PPEL dollars for transportation equipment repairs, and authorizes the use of general fund money for student activity fund safety equipment expenses.
Unfortunately the news wasn’t all good this week. The REC also met on Tuesday and lowered the revenue projection for the current fiscal year by another $131M (which is in addition to the $117M that was already cut early in the session with the de-approprition bill), and lowered the revenue estimate for next year by another $191M. This means that any additional funds dedicated to K-12 for the next fiscal year are probably unlikely. A bright spot, if you can find one is that SSA had already been set. I would imagine that had it not, we would be looking at zero.
The other item we are going to want to make sure we pay attention to is the federal budget. President Trump unveiled his budget proposal this week and it includes massive cuts to education and an increase in spending for choice programs that include vouchers–at the expense of local public schools. I am not too sure how concerned we should be at this point as it is just a budget proposal. I read one tweet from a congressman from the President’s party shortly afterward that stated something like “President’s propose budgets; Congress disposes of budgets”. So I guess we’ll see.
Finally, I am glad I acted when I did with regard to the freezer. The installers finished up the new installation yesterday afternoon so we should be good to go by Monday.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you Monday night.
Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent