§ 16-7.2-2 Joint legislative committee to establish a permanent education foundation aid formula for Rhode Island.
(a) There is hereby established a joint legislative committee to develop a basic foundation support program and an appropriate transition plan to fully implement a new funding system.
The committee shall consist of ten (10) members, five (5) of which shall be appointed by the speaker of the house, one (1) of which shall be from the minority party, and five (5) members appointed by the president of the senate, one (1) of which shall be from the minority party. The speaker of the house and president of the senate shall each appoint a committee co-chair.
The joint legislative committee is directed to consider the following framework in developing a new education foundation support program:
(1) A state education funding formula that is student population and needs driven. Student counts should include enrollments, students eligible for free and reduced lunch, those participating in language assistance programs, and special education. Provisions should be made for those school districts that experience declining enrollments.
(2) The accounting for "extraordinary special education expenditures" in special education spending for one child in a given fiscal year.
(3) A per pupil foundation amount to be used in the calculation of school funding. The per pupil foundation amount should be based on what the cost is to provide an equitable and adequate education, and consider various cost factors, such as pupil-teacher ratios, teacher and staff compensation, technology investments, educational supplies, teacher training and professional development, student performance assessments, curriculum offerings and support services and other costs associated with the delivery of educational services.
(4) Per pupil cost, based on a least cost option plan to provide purchase of service contracts in areas such as equipment, repair, benefits, transportation, general purchasing, capital construction, data processing and health and other insurance programs. In addition, the department of education should assist regional collaboratives in identifying opportunities to maximize multiple school district participation for "high cost" programs.
(5) Various methods of funding the system.
(6) A transition education funding plan.
(b) The speaker of the house and president of the senate, in consultation with the committee co-chairs, are hereby directed to appoint a foundation aid technical advisory group, and a property tax relief technical advisory group.
(c) The foundation aid technical advisory group shall advise and assist the committee in recommending foundation aid amounts by:
(1) Identifying specific resources and least cost options to provide every child the opportunity to necessary educational opportunities to meet education performance standards; and
(2) Systematically calculating the amount of per pupil funding necessary to support an effective and efficient educational system. The group may create task forces to consider the needs of special populations, comprehensive education programs, and noneducational support activities, composed of experts in these areas. In developing a foundation aid amount, the group shall consider, among other factors, pupil-teacher ratios, compensation, collective bargaining practices, technology investments, educational supplies, teacher training and professional development, student performance assessments, curriculum offerings and support services and all other costs and needs associated with the delivery of educational services.
(d) The property tax relief technical advisory group shall advise and assist the committee in identifying the options and the impact of replacing existing local education property tax levies that support the funding of elementary and secondary education with other resources.
(e) The joint committee shall issue a report outlining its findings and recommendations no later than May 15, 2007.
All state agencies and departments shall be directed to cooperate with and provide all necessary information to the joint legislative committee.
(P.L. 2004, ch. 393, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 491, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 186, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 267, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 72, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 79, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 10, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 12, § 1.)