RALEIGH — Student-based funding for North Carolina’s K-12 schools is one-step closer to becoming law.
House Bill 6, which seeks to form a Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform, was filed Wednesday by Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, and Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland.
A similar piece of legislation, Senate Bill 9, also was filed by Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Anson, and Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth.
If approved, the task force would review the current school funding system and make recommendations on appropriating money so that students benefit over Local Education Authorities, or LEAs.
Horn, chairman of the House Committee on Education Appropriations, in 2016 commissioned a 135-page report investigating how the Department of Public Instruction distributes money to school districts.
The system is broken, the report found, as it favors wealthy districts over low-income areas. Disabled students and students with limited English proficiency were adversely affected, as well.
LEAs are assigned dollar amounts to be divided among schools, often according to the number of job positions within a district. This funding model is what Horn calls the “warm-butts in seats” method. That process is ineffective and unfair to kids, he told CJ in a 2016 interview.
An overhauled system would pay LEAs according to the number students it serves, rather than by funding districts according to number of teachers.
H.B. 6 would install 18 legislators, nine from both the House and the Senate, to sit on the committee.
It’s more than time for lawmakers to overturn the process and build a better funding plan, said Terry Stoops, director of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
“While funding levels receive the most attention from advocacy organizations, elected officials, and the press, I would argue that funding methods are arguably just as important,” Stoops said. “If the state fails to distribute taxpayer funding in a fair and transparent way, then we are more likely to finance inefficient, and ultimately ineffective, public school systems.”
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