Education committee chairs file bill for school foundation funding

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 2,574 views 

The leaders of the legislative education committees filed a bill Thursday (March 23) that sets the foundation funding amount for public school students.

The dollar figures in the measure will be instrumental in calculating money directed from the state to public schools and the money allowed for education freedom accounts, the voucher program set forth in Gov. Sarah Sanders’ LEARNS Act.

HB1688 by Rep. Brian Evans, R-Cabot, and Sen. Jane English, D-North Little Rock, sets the FY 2023-2024 foundation funding amount at $7,618 per student and the 2024-2025 amount at $7,771 per student. The foundation funding amount is multiplied by a school district’s average daily membership from the previous school year to determine state money sent to a district.

The bill also outlines alternative learning environment funding, which is set at $4,987 in the upcoming school year and $5,086 the following year.

Funding for students in alternative learning environments are distributed based on rules promulgated by the State Board of Education.

The LEARNS Act created the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program, which would give participating families access to up to 90% of the prior year’s statewide foundation funding to be used for private schooling or homeschooling.

The program would begin enrolling students this upcoming school year and be fully implemented by 2025-26. To participate, private schools would have to be approved by the State Board of Education and either be accredited or on their way to being accredited within four years.