The Senate Capital Budget Committee heard Substitute Senate Bill 6080 in committee last week. This was the second time the bill was heard and the PTA was able to participate in both hearings. The substitute senate bill made changes based on some recommendations offered by PTA issue team lead, Eden Mack. The bill creates a separate program allowing school districts to apply for grants to help fund additional K-3 classrooms due to the class size reduction requirements of McCleary. The basic difference between the existing School Capital Assistance Program (SCAP) and the K-3 Grants is here. The bill in its entirety is found here.
This proposal of adding an additional $280 million dollars to the K-12 Capital Construction Program is in addition to the Senate Capital Budget proposal of $613 million for K-12 construction matching funds, $38 million for skill center improvements and $10 million for STEM grants. The total proposed increase for K-12 is $943 million dollars. Sadly, this proposal only meets about 1/3rd of the anticipated requirements for new classroom space to fund class size reduction in K-3.
The PTA is thankful to Senate members (it is a bipartisan budget) for their work, but we continue to caution them that the funding provided isn't enough to meet the needs of our growing state. It is possible, however, that the Senate could meet the needs of the McCleary class size reduction if they pace the funding for capital at the same rate as the funding for operating. The PTA will continue to work with the legislature to ensure that our children have an optimal, and effective, learning environment.