The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee has reported out SB 362, a bill that would extend the compulsory attendance age for public schools to 16 years of age. Following some discussion on the floor today, the bill was postponed for further consideration tomorrow.
Past versions of similar legislation have failed, largely due to the substantial fiscal costs it carries. Adding thousands of additional students to the public school funding formulas would trigger an increase of some $35 million beginning in FY 2016, and rising to $50 million by FY 2018. Local school boards would bear the full additional costs of educating these students (many expect these costs to be well beyond the amount of state funding contemplated) and thus would turn to county governments to supply the additional needed costs. Under the state’s (about to be toughened) maintenance of effort law, each county would at the very least be obliged to supply the same per pupil funding for each new student added by the bill’s effects. Additional costs for classroom space and affiliated facility improvements would presumably become a local responsibility, as the bill does not specify a state role for that support.
Click here to read the bill’s fiscal note, which contains not just financial information but also substantial background on the policy issues related to it.