Category Archives: education funding

SSA Reference Numbers FY2018

I occasionally find myself trying to find dollar figures for SSA, as SSA is frequently reported in percentages that can’t easily be compared to other budget item spending.

This year, Governor Branstad referenced specific dollar figures in his Condition of the State address [$78.8 million for FY2018 and $63.5 million for FY2019 from the actual speech, which are slightly higher than numbers in the speech as prepared].

For future reference, here are dollar figures for various SSA percentages for FY 2018 from the Legislative Services Agency.

These numbers are complicated by the fact that the Teacher Leadership program grant has ended and the money for the third year of the grants has rolled over to the regular education funding streams. The teacher leadership money is $54 million and accounts for most of the reason the numbers listed at each percent of growth are so much higher for FY2018 than for FY2019. Governor Branstad’s numbers don’t match the LSA numbers for 2% growth, in part, because he elected to exclude the teacher leadership money from the “new money” proposed in his budget. However, legislative discussions of percent growth will be based upon the numbers provided by the LSA, which must account for those teacher leadership dollars as “new” because they are new to this particular funding stream.

  • 0.0%                –$62.2 million
  • 0.5%                –$81.0 million
  • 1.0%                –$100.0 million
  • 1.5%                –$119.2 million
  • Gov. proposal—$141.0 million [LSA puts this at an increase of $132 per student for a total of $6,723 per student for the 2017-18 school year]
  • 2.0%                –$141.4 million
  • 2.5%               –$158.7 million
  • 3.0%               –$177.8 million
  • 3.5%               –$197.5 million
  • 4.0%               –$217.8 million
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SSA Reference Numbers

I occasionally find myself trying to find dollar figures for SSA, as SSA is frequently reported in percentages that can’t easily be compared to other budget item spending. For future reference, here are dollar figures for various SSA percentages for FY 2017 from the Legislative Services Agency by way of @IAHouseGOP:

ADDED: Per student calculation based on 2015-16 K-12 enrollment of 480,062 and rounded to the nearest dollar amount.

  • 1%        — $40.9 million     [$85 per student]
  • 2%        — $83.1 million     [$173 per student]
  • 2.45%* — $102.1 million  [$213 per student]
  • 3%        — $125 million      [$260 per student]
  • 4%        — $168.1 million   [$350 per student]

*SSA percentage suggested by Governor Branstad last year. He has since backed away from this number.

SBAC Adoption: No Fiscal Impact

. . . to the state, that is, “but there is a fiscal impact to school districts by increasing expenditures an estimated $6.0 to $7.0 million.”

“[T]he total estimated cost for SBAC [for the 2016-2017 school year] is between $8.3 million and $9.3 million.” [Note that the DE provided just the low estimate number to the Legislature earlier this year.] Note that these cost estimates do not include the costs of science assessments, which are required by law but not included in the SBAC assessments, or the costs to districts for building and maintaining the technology infrastructure required to administer the SBAC assessments. These costs to districts are still unknown. The DE estimates districts may save some money by choosing to use SBAC interim and formative assessments in place of other district-selected assessments

But wait, there’s more. The intensive summer literacy program, which is part of the third grade retention law, also has no fiscal impact to the state, but, again, there is a fiscal impact for districts. The DE is estimating a first year cost to districts between $6.6 million and $9.9 million.

Before too long, all these millions are going to add up to real money for school districts. Question: will the benefits (if any) for students outweigh the costs?

ADDED: A few relevant links to The Gazette:

“Our children are worth it.”

Mary Ellen Miller, member of the Iowa State Board of Education, keeps defending the decision to move forward with adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments by saying, “Our children are worth it.

I have not heard a single critic of the Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa say that our children aren’t worth it. The issue isn’t the inherent worth of Iowa’s school children, the issue is whether the Smarter Balanced assessments are worth it, whatever “it” is. And “it” is whatever districts will need to cut from their budgets to pay for the additional costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Heads up, ICCSD school board candidates. Here’s what Chief Academic Officer Becky Furlong had to say about how adoption of the Smarter Balanced assessments could affect the district:

However, she said the Smarter Balanced tests could have a major impact on ICCSD.

Furlong said the new exams cost more than the current Iowa Assessments, and that the district might struggle with a lack of bandwidth to administer them. She said students who aren’t familiar with online tests also might be at a disadvantage.

“There are some legitimate concerns,” she said.

Furlong said she hopes the Department of Education will provide adequate time, funding and professional development to districts to successfully implement the new tests.

Of course, the DE doesn’t appropriate money for schools, that’s up to the Iowa Legislature. And while Miller may be of the opinion that it would be “easy” for the Legislature to find the money, the 2015 legislative session suggests otherwise.

So the State Board of Education Met . . .

. . . and I took a stab at live-tweeting it. I had fun, but I’m now convinced that live-tweeting is at least a two person job as it was hard–for me anyway–to try to take extensive notes plus compose tweets plus keep up with my Twitter feed.

In case you missed the live-tweeting, I’ve put together a Storify version of it here.

For future reference, I see that the DE was using the hashtag #iastatebd yesterday on Twitter.

It’s old news at this point, but the Iowa State Board of Education, by unanimous vote, adopted the Next Generation Science Standards as presented in the Science Standards Review Team Report. See news coverage herehere, and here. The State Board also, by unanimous vote, directed the DE to draft rules implementing the Assessment Task Force’s recommendation number one (adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments) for the 2016-17 school year and to reconvene the Assessment Task Force to review science assessments. See news coverage here and here.

On the drive home, a few things struck me about the State Board discussion around assessment.

First, that individual state board members publicly acknowledged that the costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments for districts would be more (not the same or less). Of course, that didn’t stop them from voting to move forward with adopting the assessments, as at least two of the board members opined that it would be easy for either districts or the Legislature to find the money. Miller suggested that people write or talk to legislators.

Perhaps you have just slapped your forehead and thought–as I did–“I wish I had thought of talking or writing to legislators about the need for more school funding! I’ll have to give that a try. No doubt it will be very effective, when we finally do it.”

Or maybe you were just wondering if state board members follow the news or any social media accounts. At all.

Second, it occurred to me that the state board members did not raise the issue of technology readiness for statewide online assessment as part of the discussion yesterday, nor did they discuss the experiences other states had administering the Smarter Balanced assessments this spring. Based on a non-discussion, it is hard to know if they aren’t following national news or are otherwise unaware of these issues, or if they feel that these issues have been adequately covered in other meetings or, perhaps, by the Assessment Task Force.

Which brings me to a third thought, as I considered this Barry Garelick tweet (referencing science standards adoption) again this afternoon:

And that thought, or question, really, is whether the use of task forces and review teams, whatever their merits might be (and I do think they may have some), removes too much of the deliberative process from the public eye.

I didn’t stick around for the agenda item on a public school choir singing religious songs, but interested readers can find coverage of State Board action on that item here and here.

Thoughts on the actions taken by the state board? Or on the processes in place for making decisions about public education on behalf of the citizens of Iowa? Are the decisions being made good ones, sufficiently transparent, and being made by the right people?

Future of Iowa Ed Funding?

If the 2015 legislative session wasn’t enough evidence, consider the belief that teacher leadership money would supplement, not supplant, adequate supplemental state aid officially dispelled, as Radio Iowa reports from the Governor’s weekly news conference that Branstad favors more ‘specific, strategic’ earmarks in education spending.

Governor Terry Branstad says he’d like to earmark more state funding for schools rather than give districts a lump sum to spend as local officials see fit.

“Instead of the old way that we used to do things, we gave all this across-the-board money with no accountability and Iowa kind of stagnated while other states put focus on things that increased their standards and improved their student achievement,” Branstad says.

Fortunately, the Governor (or some policy person in Des Moines) knows just the right things to spend education funding on to improve student achievement, unlike local education professionals.

“We want to become best in America again and I think that’s going to take specific and strategic investments in education that focus on things that really make a difference,” Branstad says.

Branstad cites the $10 million he had suggested for programs to help minority students do better in school. Legislators did not earmark the money for that initiative. Branstad says it’s time for state policymakers “to move forward” and work together on “proven” programs, like the focus on science, technology, engineering and math courses.

If you are among those who wrote or called legislators to urge them to support a special session to override the Governor’s veto of one-time education funding, you may want to add earmarks (categorical funding) versus supplemental state aid to your list of things to talk to legislators about.

You may also want to save the date Saturday, January, 16, 2016:

Read more about Patrick Kearney’s organizing efforts at An Action Plan for Advocacy.