WHEREAS, there is a constitutional obligation to provide a minimum foundation of education for all public elementary and secondary schools;
WHEREAS, the state has fulfilled its commitment to fully fund the state share of the current minimum foundation program (hereafter "MFP") formula;
WHEREAS, there have been a number of resolutions enacted by the legislature requesting the study of various aspects of the current MFP; and
WHEREAS, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (hereafter "BESE") has indicated a commitment to examine the current MFP to determine possible improvements;
NOW THEREFORE I, M.J. "MIKE" FOSTER, JR., Governor of the state of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested through the Constitution and the laws of the state of Louisiana do hereby order and direct as follows:
SECTION 1: The School Finance Commission (hereafter "Commission") is created as a partnership of the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana Legislature, and BESE.
SECTION 2: The duties and functions of the Commission shall include an analysis of financing the public education system in Louisiana and making written recommendations regarding said financing including, but not limited to, addressing the following issues:
SECTION 3: The Commission shall begin work by September 30, 1999, and submit a series of at least three reports. The first shall be completed by March 1, 2000, and offer recommendations on the issues set forth in Section 2 related to ways that the MFP could be used to assure teachers and other employees' salaries reach levels comparable to applicable SREB states; the issues related to enhanced legislative input; simplification of the formula; the impact of existing state mandates; student counts; and weighted factors. The final report shall be due by March 1, 2001, and shall address all remaining issues set forth in Section 2 not covered in the initial reports.
SECTION 4: The Commission shall be composed of twenty-seven (27) members who have committed to attend all meetings of the Commission and who shall be appointed by the governor, president of the Senate, speaker of the House of Representatives, president of BESE, or as noted below.
SECTION 5: The governor shall appoint the chair from its membership. Any other officers shall be elected by the Commission.
SECTION 6: The Commission shall operate using a four-member executive committee which shall be created by having the governor, president of the Senate, speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president of BESE each appointing one member. The superintendent of Department of Education shall serve as an ex officio member of the executive committee. Such executive committee shall identify and oversee the work of any staffing support for the Commission, and shall work with the chair to establish the agendas and work plan for each meeting.
SECTION 7: The Commission shall utilize the expertise of one or more national school finance experts and one or more state experts, with such experts being selected by the executive committee. The superintendent of the Department of Education shall have the responsibility of identifying possible candidates and making recommendations to the executive committee in a time frame that ensures the completion of all necessary paperwork to allow one or more of these experts to actually begin consulting work no later than September 1, 1999. Costs associated with the services of such experts shall be covered by BESE using funds appropriated by the legislature for such purpose. Such experts shall report to and follow the directions of the executive committee.
SECTION 8: The Commission shall provide the opportunity for input from other legislators, BESE members, school district officials, community leaders, parents, and others not formally serving as a Commission member.
SECTION 9: The Commission shall meet at regularly scheduled intervals and at the call of the chair. A simple majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. All formal actions of the Commission shall require a majority vote of the members of the Commission present, with a quorum being fourteen (14) members.
SECTION 10: Commission members shall not receive compensation or a per diem, unless provided for by their own organization. Commission members may receive reimbursement for actual travel expenses, in accordance with state guidelines and procedures, using funds appropriated to BESE by the legislature for overall Commission activities.
SECTION 11: All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and officers of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Commission in implementing the provisions of this Order.
SECTION 12: This Order is effective upon signature and shall remain in effect until March 1, 2001, or until amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the governor or terminated by operation of law.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the state of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 26th day of August, 1999.
M.J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.
Secretary of State