Several Significant K-12 Policy Items Remain in Budget Bill

2017-state-budgetLast week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) co-chairs removed 83 provisions identified as “non-fiscal” policy items from the governor’s budget bill. (See previous post).

However, a number of policy items with a significant impact on school boards and school districts remain in the bill. Here we highlight a few of them:

Act 10 Compliance Certification—this item requires each school district to certify to the DPI that employees of the school district will be required to pay at least 12 percent of all costs and payments associated with employee health coverage plans in that year in order to receive the increased per pupil categorical aid payments proposed by the governor.

The governor proposes to increase those payments from the current $250 per pupil to $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 in 2018-19. (Note: A portion of this increase—$12 in 2017-18 and $24 in 2018-19 — remains contingent on the state achieving savings by restructuring the program that provides health insurance for state employees.  If that restructuring is not implemented, the increase in per pupil aid could be reduced by those amounts.  (See previous post.)

Teacher & Administrator Licensure Changes—this item repeals the current system of five-year license renewals and provide instead that teaching and administrator licenses be perpetual, other than in cases of misconduct. These provisions would also shift responsibility for conducting periodic background checks from the DPI to the school districts that employ license holders. (See previous post.)

(This item has a fiscal impact on the state because of the loss or revenue from renewal fees and because the governor proposes eliminating 10 positions in the DPI associated with teacher and administrator licensure renewals.)

Repeal of Revenue Limit Exemption for Energy Efficiency Projects—this item eliminates this exemption and prohibits any new increases in revenue limits for energy efficiency projects unless approved by district voters at a referendum. (See previous post.)

Creation of an Early College Credit Program—this item combines the existing Course Options and Youth Options programs into a new Early College Credit program that would govern dual enrollment for college credit. This item also restores the Part-Time Open Enrollment program that was replaced by the Course Options Program in 2013. (See previous post.)

School Mental Health Initiatives—these items, aimed at expanding and improving access to mental health services for school-age youth, remain in the budget bill and include providing: $3 million in 2018-19 to support the availability of social work services in schools; $2.5 million in 2018-19for grants for school-linked mental health services; and roughly $500,000 annually in both years to train school personnel in mental health first aid and trauma-informed care. (See previous post.)

Elimination of the Farm-to-School Coordinator and Advisory Council—this item eliminates the now-vacant farm-to-school coordinator position and 15-member farm-to-school advisory council now housed in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. (See previous post.)

Elimination of the Local Government Property Insurance Fund—this item closes the state-run Local Government Property Insurance Fund (LGPIF) to new policies and prevents renewal of existing policies issued by the Fund. (About a dozen school districts still purchase their property/casualty insurance through the LGPIF, which was created to ensure that local governmental units, including school districts, have access to affordable property insurance.)

Under this item no insurance coverage may be issued by the LGPIF on or after July 1, 2017, no existing coverage may be renewed after December 31, 2017, and no coverage may terminate later than December 31, 2018. All claims under the LGPIF must be filed by no later than July 1, 2019. No claim filed after that date will be covered by the fund.