Testimony being accepted for Rep. Geiger school funding reform bill

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 9:30am

AUGUSTA — Representative Valli Geiger announced Monday that public testimony is being accepted for her bill proposing changes to the school funding formula in an effort to create a more fair and equitable system of state funding for education. 

“I have requested changes to the education formula, including several ways other states provide education funding,” she stated. “In addition, it states that until such time as the education formula is changed to include a per capita income inclusion, all additional funds including Covid Relief funds will be distributed on a per pupil basis.” 

LD 1521 proposes the changes to the school funding formula occur in one of four ways:

1. Add a per capita income adjustment to the school funding formula

2. Establishing a state per-pupil contribution rate equal to 46% of the cost of educating each student in each school administrative unit with additional funding provided to school administrative units with low property valuations and low per capita income

3. Providing additional funding outside of the school funding formula for service center communities to adjust for disparities created among communities by the school formula 

4. Adopting a version of one of the following models

a. The foundation grant model, in which the State determines a minimum amount that should be spent for each student, calculates the ability of a school administrative unit to pay for each student and provides funding for the difference to each school administrative unit

b. The guaranteed tax base model, in which the State guarantees that each municipality will raise a guaranteed amount of funding per student at a given rate of property taxation. The State provides funding to a municipality for the difference between the guaranteed amount of funding and the amount actually raised. 

c. The centralized model, in which a standard property tax rate to fund the cost of education is set by the State and the State provides a standard per-pupil amount of funding to each school administrative unit. 

d. The Vermont model, in which the State sets property tax rates and bills property owners to fund the cost of education with a lower rate for homesteads. The State provides funding for education on a per-pupil basis with certain adjustments, including a poverty adjustment. Local school districts may raise additional funds through property taxation to supplement funding provided by the State, subject to certain requirements and limits. 

The public hearing is to be held Tuesday, April 27 at 10 a.m., and written testimony can be submitted ahead of the hearing.

Oral testimony can be provided in support, opposition or neither during the hearing.

The hearing is held by the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

To submit testimony, click here, and follow the prompts.