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Editorial: MFP Task Force step in right direction for education reform

Last Modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 10:36 AM

The state’s plan to study how it funds public education represents good news for all involved.

A 21-member committee representing a wide range of interests is scheduled to meet four times to examine what it costs to educate elementary and secondary students in the state, funding sources and how the money is allocated.

The latter comes under the heading of the Minimum Foundation Program, which has been the formula used for funding Louisiana public school districts since 2000.

School superintendents and even state lawmakers have complained that the MFP is difficult to understand and often does not distribute federal and state money equitably.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education began discussing the need for input from educators and stakeholders regarding the funding formula.

“BESE created the MFP Task Force because it values and desires broad stakeholder input and engagement in the development of our state’s school funding formula,” said Jay Guillot, BESE member and chair of the Administration and Finance Committee. “Considering the state’s limited resources and educational reforms of the last several years, the goal of the task force is to recommend reasonable MFP modifications for improved alignment, and public involvement in this process is critical.”

State Superintendent of Education said the goal is to develop a better funding formula for the 2014-15 school year.

“By starting the process early, and by gathering diverse perspectives, the task force will provide guidance to BESE on what is one of the Board’s most important tasks,’’ he said.

Connie Hebert, a fourth-grade teacher at Welsh Elementary School has been appointed by the BESE board to the panel. Other members of the panel include two superintendents of public school districts, a charter school founder, a principal and two public school parents. Other appointments will be made by the governor, House and Senate, the Louisiana School Boards Association, the School Board Association, the three teacher unions in the state, the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

If nothing else, the panel represents a diverse group, a quality that has sometimes been missing in other recent education reform initiatives in Louisiana.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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