1. STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH
We support efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health systems. These systems will be designed to offer both preventative and treatment services and comprehensive mental health programs that include in-school access for students to mental health professionals and provisions for reimbursement by Medicaid and private insurers.
We also support additional ongoing teacher, administrator, and support staff training to improve the awareness and understanding of child emotional and mental health needs.
It is also the case that additional funding will be necessary to bring this priority into full form. We are supportive of funding models that expand dollars to further bolster the mental health system.
Setting Supplemental State Aid (SSA) within the statutory requirements allows districts to make sound financial decisions. We support setting SSA:
- For FY 2022, within the first 30 days of the Governor’s budget announcement;
- For FY 2023 and future budget years, at least 14 months prior to the certification of the school’s district budgets; and
- At a rate that sufficiently supports local districts’ efforts to plan, create and sustain world-class schools.
We also support a formula-driven method, which includes indicators of economic growth, for establishing the SSA growth rate if it is not set within the statutory requirements.
3. COVID RELIEF
School districts have taken on additional costs through the pandemic, as well as losses in revenue as part of keeping schools in session through the pandemic. We support additional dollars, allocated on a per-pupil basis, to be used as a buffer for one-time costs associated with COVID. We would also seek consideration for on-time funding in this circumstance. In addition to substitute teachers, PPE, and other costs, the request includes funding for summer or other extended learning opportunities to support students for whom a gap has been identified or been exacerbated through the pandemic.
4. ENGLISH LEARNERS
English Learners (EL) are the fastest-growing student population in our school district. As such, we support sufficient on-time funding for EL students until they reach proficiency.
5. SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING
We support predictable and timely state funding to serve students receiving special education services at a level that reflects the actual cost, including educational programming and health care costs. We also support an expectation that the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) give serious consideration to increasing the funding levels currently used in special education weighting.
We support providing the flexibility to expand educational opportunities and choices for students and families. In so doing, the educational options must remain under the sole authority of locally elected school boards charged with representing community interests and accountability.
We oppose the use of additional taxpayer funds for the creation of vouchers or educational savings accounts or an increase in tax credits or deductions directed toward non-public schools.
In addition to the above-mentioned priorities, we are also supportive of the following:
1. LICENSURE RECIPROCITY AGREEMENTS
We support the creation of reciprocity agreements with other states with high-quality education programs so as to increase diversity among our certified teachers and administrators.
2. UNFUNDED MANDATES
We oppose any new mandate that does not provide sufficient and sustainable funding for successful implementation.
3. BOND ISSUES
We support the authority to levy a combination of property taxes and income surtaxes to pay indebtedness. We support legislation to clarify that revenue bonds to not count toward a five percent statutory debt limit. We support allowing school bond issues to be passed by a simple majority vote. We support keeping the current bond referendum election dates at four per year.
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