The budget devised by House and Senate negotiators to reconcile the differences between their respective chamber plans was released late on Monday, June 27. The Senate passed the bill on Wed., June 29, and the House on Friday, July 1. The budget comprises two documents: the conference budget bill and the conference money report.
Here are some highlights:
- The claim that teacher pay will rise to an average of $50,000 this year includes local supplements that vary widely, however most teachers will see some increase. The raises are directed at more experienced teachers, with a range from 2% for those with 25 or more years to 8.2% for those with 8 years in the classroom.
- There is a pilot program for rewarding third grade teachers. Teachers who are in the top 25% in the state for EVAAS student growth index scores in reading will share $5 million. Teachers who are in the top 25% of their LEAs for the same score will share $5 million, and teachers who fall in both categories will receive both bonuses.
- The state’s voucher program will expand by an extra $10 million and 2,000 students every year until 2027-2028 when spending will plateau at $144.8 million per year. The budget also expands the percentage of money that can go to Kindergarten and 1st grade recipients, from 35% to 40% of what remains after prior recipients are enrolled.
- The school performance grade formula will not change from 80% test scores, 20% growth to 50/50 as the House proposed, and the 15-point scale will remain for the next three years.
- The budget codifies maximum class sizes for the earliest grades. The funded class size ratios are: Kindergarten 1:18; 1st grade 1:16; and 2nd and 3rd grade 1:17.
- A provision in the Senate budget that would have changed the schedules of year-round schools was omitted.
- The percentage of virtual charter school teachers who must live in state decreases from 90% to 80%. The budget also changes the way students who withdraw are counted under the withdrawal rate cap of 25%, creating four new exceptions. For instance, a student who withdraws for “a family, personal, or medical reason” and who notifies the school would not count as a withdrawal under the cap.