Schwab backs boost to schools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2001

From staff reports


Saturday, May 05, 2001

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Sen. Grace Schwab said she voted to pass the Senate education bill Thursday because it gives more money to public schools, including the districts in our area.

The Senate approved the $8.8 billion funding package Thursday 46 to 18.

&uot;This bill does more than just maintain current funding levels,&uot; Schwab said in a statement. &uot;It also adds another $450 million for education.&uot;

Schwab said the bill increases the basic per-student formula by $226 over the next two years, but districts with low property values, primarily in rural area, could qualify for even more money from the state through referendum changes.

The Senate bill also protects vocational education, a program for students preparing for high-skill jobs in the labor market, Schwab said. Without the Senate extension, the vocational education revenue formula will expire at the end of this school year.

Schwab said the projections of the Senate bill’s effects show school revenue significantly increasing in the school districts she represents. On average, per student revenue should climb by over $140 in the next school year and by another $170 in the following school year.

&uot;We’ve got to put our limited resources where they count,&uot; Schwab said, &uot;and that means investing in education so that students have every opportunity to develop into capable and productive adults.&uot;

Schwab, a member of the Senate Education Committee, said public input was an important influence on developing the Senate’s education budget.

&uot;The governor was overly restrictive in the amount he proposed to spend,&uot; said Schwab. &uot;I believe the response of concerned parents and teachers will move him more in the direction of the Senate approach.&uot;

The school finance bill, which also includes over a half billion dollars for adult education, early childhood services, Head Start, and child care assistance, still has several steps before enactment, Schwab said. Besides lack of endorsement from the governor, Schwab said the Senate bill is a much different bill than the one passed by the House.

&uot;Conflicts will need to be resolved by a joint conference committee,&uot; said Schwab. &uot;Some of these differences center on finance issues, while others are more policy oriented, such as the House provision to repeal the Profile of Learning.&uot;

Some of the new initiatives in the Senate legislation include financial incentives for new models of teacher compensation and for recruiting and retaining teachers in hard-to-fill areas. The bill also establishes a new board to specifically oversee the licensure of school administrators such as superintendents and principals.

&uot;The Senate will conclude business in just over two weeks,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;During that short time, Legislators need to stay focused on doing what’s right for our schools and students.&uot;