Beebe: We are not making public education a priority | Notice

So now we are moving quickly into July, with the legislative session ending in mid-May. How did public education go? Not very well.

Additional state aid rose to 2.4% for the coming academic year. Given that the budget is based on fall 2020 enrollments, down nearly 6,000 students due to the pandemic, that meager 2.4% increase per student is actually a reduction for many school districts. and costs the state only about a quarter of their usual annual increase of $ 95 million. for public schools.

We therefore continue to back down as most principals believe that an increase of at least 4% would be needed to meet the existing needs of schools. A budget increase that does not keep pace with costs is a reduction in real terms. Our school districts will be forced to make cuts in the coming year as state funding continues to lag behind rising costs.

The state has a combined budget surplus and a rainy day fund that totals nearly $ 1 billion. What better place to spend some of that money than on educating our young people, our most precious possession?

After the law was passed this year, it is no longer clear what it means to provide education. It seems that everything is happening here. Our governor boasted that “historic” legislation had been enacted to expand the state’s charter school system.

Charter schools are private entities that receive public funds but are not accountable to school boards. They can request waivers to be exempted from certain state educational standards. Children who attend charter schools will take with them nearly $ 8,000 in taxpayer dollars. This is money that would have gone to traditional public schools.

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