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Advertisement Giving schools flexibility to ensure efficient use of funding in schools
by Liz Mathis State Senator · April 6th, 2017

The Legislature is working on two bills to provide flexibility in how schools use their money. This session, Marion Superintendent Chris Dyer and I worked on flexibility issues around teacher training and home school funding for the Marion School District. I think the Marion District will be pleased with what we passed.

When new programs are created, schools often must follow certain guidelines in spending the allotted money. This is called categorical funding. To help schools use their limited funding effectively, HF 564 adds allowable expenses.

For example, preschool funds currently can be used for professional development of preschool teachers, instructional equipment and transporting preschool kids. Under HF 564, any funding not used at the end of the year may go toward translation services, playground equipment, repair costs, enhancing programs by contracting with community providers, and more.

While HF 564 addresses allocation and flexibility in using funds, another bill (HF 565) creates a special flexibility account.

In 2015, school districts statewide had $146 million in unused funds. Under HF 565, some of that money could go into a "Flexibility Account" to be used in a broader fashion to achieve the goals of the original funding. This would allow schools to provide more high-quality programming and a stronger educational environment overall. Use of the funds would require a public hearing and school board approval.

These two bills won't overcome the struggles our schools face after years of inadequate state funding, but they may make school budgets a little easier to manage in tough times.
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