BESE approves MFP, concerns linger

Photo provided by staff.
Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 10:34pm

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a Minimum Foundation Program formula for the 2014-2015 school year. An amended version of the MFP passed after many stakeholders came out against the proposed plan. The amended version does include some changes to the formula to address the concerns brought up by educators. Still, some education leaders say they’re wary about the amended MFP.

“The bottom line here is you've just watched chapter one of a two-act play,” Steve Monaghan, President of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, stated after the meeting.

Now that BESE has approved the MFP it will go to the state legislature where lawmakers will decided if it will actually go into affect.

Before the amended MFP was passed stakeholders raised concerns that school districts were not going to be given enough money to cover the rise in teacher retirement cost, plus the cost of implementing state education standards.

"There is not an endless amount of money, so we have to balance the idea of how much money is needed along with the idea of accountability," Chas Roemer, BESE President, said.

Other BESE members disagreed with the proposed MFP.

“We need to make sure that our educators; we need to make sure our administrators; we need to make sure that our districts have the funding so they are prepared educate our children, and if they don't how can we expect them to do something,” Carolyn Hill, BESE Member, said.

According to a statement from released by BESE officials: “The approved MFP includes a 2.75 percent statewide funding increase, additional state funds for career education courses, state funding for districts to provide expanded course opportunities outside of high schools, and an increase in state funding for students whose disabilities require costly services.”

The amended MFP added language to cover adjustments for inflation.

“One of the members brought up in past formulas there had been language that said that if the legislature did not approve with the budget that BESE passed there would be an automatic increase from the previous years. That language was in general added back today,” Roemer. "...So that doesn't add dollars this year but it does add the idea that in a year when we can' agree on amount there is a way to figure out what the amount should be. "

The new formula also includes language that supports using any extra money lawmakers may come up with for k-12 education as long as accountability measures are met.

Hill stated she still questions what happens if there's no extra money to be had.

"Who is going to really suffer is the children, because at the end of the day we are not putting the money where it really needs to go," Hill said.

"It is another version of ‘Oliver Twist,’ and it's the same question of teachers asking for more because they don't see the big numbers that are being talked up in this body. They just see what they have to use in their classrooms, and it's not adequate. "

Some education community advocates are ready to take their concerns over the MFP to the state legislature to make sure their voices are heard.

  

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