Report on school funding progress goes to court

Staff writerAugust 27, 2013 

Lawmakers earlier this year agreed on what to do in response to a court mandate to fully fund basic education. On Tuesday they agreed on how to describe what they did to the court.

A legislative committee signed off unanimously on a progress report to the state Supreme Court that spells out the details of the $982 million lawmakers added to basic education over the next two years in response to the court's decision in what is known as the McCleary case.

The report also explains how far lawmakers still have to go.

For example, the report describes how the state is now kicking in more for school districts' basic operating costs such as books and supplies, increasing state funding per student in that category to more than $781 over two school years, up from $560.

But the report says lawmakers would have to triple the additional funding in that category by the following school year, 2015-2016, to meet a deadline they set for themselves in 2010.

The report also notes how lawmakers used some temporary measures to reach their current funding levels. Those included transferring money from a fund that makes infrastructure loans, and continuing a long freeze on state funding for cost-of-living raises that go to school employees.

Lawmakers had met behind closed doors to hash out disagreements on the report, such as whether to mention the canceled raises, which Democrats wanted.

Republicans wanted to mention policy changes, but those were largely omitted from the final report. Democrats wanted to ask the court to clarify its order in several ways, but those were also left out.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: Here's the final report.

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