School finance panel finishes interim report

The task force charged with providing a solution to the problems in the way the state funds education has approved an interim report.

The “consensus recommendations” are two pages.

The recommendations include providing greater access and enhancing early education programs, providing “fair and reasonable” funding for the state’s nontraditional school choice programs, using more accurate data to measure a town’s wealth and need.

They also recommend that the state provide competitive grants for districts that make the necessary reforms. The group is also recommending increasing funding, while several members of the task force — including the governor’s budget director and legislature’s appropriations committee leaders — acknowledge that an influx of money will be hard to be realized.

“I know that everyone has decided that what is required is more money, and I don’t know that I agree that it’s a whole lot more money, I think it’s money better spent,” Sen. Toni Harp, the co-chair of the Appropriations Committee and task force member, said Thursday.

The task force will continue its work through October, when it will release a more in-depth report. Additional recommendations task force members have not yet reached consensus on but plan to consider for their follow-up report were also released Thursday.

Those topics include

— Using free- and reduced-price lunch data to measure a town’s need;

— Scheduling a phase-in of additional money;

— Eliminating the requirement that districts spend a minimum amount on education;

— Tying a portion of state funding to increased student performance;

— Requiring state funding to follow a student who leaves a district to their new school;

See the full report here and a story about the task force’s work here.