A bill that restructures the formula for school funding passed the North Dakota House by a nearly unanimous vote on Thursday.
House Bill 1319 makes changes in the state’s K-12 funding formula for state aid as well as building local property tax relief into the funding formula. HB1319 passed, 86-3.
“The local share plus the state share will meet an adequacy target,” said Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Grand Forks.
The combination of the state and local share would equate to $8,810 per student for the 2013-14 school year and $9,092 the following year.
Sanford said HB1319 has approximately $595 million in tax relief built into it.
“Not only are we supporting students ... the state is taking on a larger role (in education),” Sanford said.
Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, questioned Sanford on HB1319. He asked if the state may be putting itself in a risky situation by providing a set percentage of funding for K-12 education.
Sanford said the percentage of state funding wasn’t the most important aspect of the bill, but rather creating a level playing field for districts large and small.
“I think the critical piece here is there’s an adequacy target,” Sanford said.
Koppelman said there can be any number of interpretations of what “adequacy” means. He said if he told someone he’d provide them an adequate dinner there’s a difference between going to an expensive restaurant or a fast-food drive-thru.
“You’re still talking about providing a certain amount,” Koppelman said.
Sanford replied that although funding for education may rise, it doesn’t necessarily mean schools will be able to spend on whatever they want.
Prior to the floor vote Rep. Jerry Kelsh, D-Fullerton, voiced support for HB1319.
“I think it’s a bold change,” Kelsh said.