School Budgets - March 21, 2024

Brooke Olsen-Farrell (Superintendent, Slate Valley Supervisory Union) shared that their budget failed by a 464-vote margin. Voters in her district seem to “pride themselves on keeping education spending low.” Despite being among the lowest spending in the state and being “advantaged” by Act 127.

She argued that Act 46 did not go far enough. She believes leadership must come from the top and we must address further consolidation as a state.

NOTE: She was just recently elected as the upcoming president of the Superintendents Association. We can expect that this will continue to be a narrative coming from this group.

Her district is struggling to pass a budget with spending at $11k per student while the district to the north of them had a budget with $16k in spending “sail through.” This disparity is creating “inequities” in the system, she argued.

Senator Gulick pointed out that their weighted student count increased 9% under Act 127. Olsen-Farrell agreed that it was a positive for them but the increased revenue was offset by CLA’s.

She demanded that a “vision” come from a Secretary of Education, the Governor and the Legislature and then have them “put the resources in place to achieve those goals.” She claimed she wasn’t sure if “we are going with newer and fewer schools or privatization.”

NOTE: There is a lack of leadership at the state level that has led to a lack of transparency and accountability surrounding both spending and performance. To claim that “privatization” is one of the leadership priorities of the state is disingenuous. No one has suggested that and there is no broader movement pushing that direction.

Chairman Campion noted that we have “students who are thriving and students who are far from thriving.” He pointed to “teacher salaries and teacher contracts” as something they needed to look at.


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