School Finance Commission

WHEREAS, having a quality public education system is essential for the long-term success of Louisiana's economy;

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:

A. Evaluating the viability of the current goals of the MFP, determining whether there is a need to modify, delete or supplement the current goals, including whether it is appropriate or desirable to add goals or targets related to:

1. Teacher salaries;

2. The School and District Accountability System or related objectives;

3. Remediation programs; and

4. Other classroom based supports.

B. The adequacy of funding the costs of a minimum foundation of education for children in Louisiana, including the following:

1. The adequacy of the method used to determine the cost of educating our children, including identification of excluded costs;

2. Whether to use per pupil calculations or specified inputs to determine the cost;

3. The weighting of factors, including the adequacy of existing weighted factors; and

4. Whether to delete existing weighted factors or add other weighted factors such as teacher salaries, remediation programs, alternative school programs.

C. The equitable distribution of the funds to the local school districts, including the following:

1. The equity of current state and local support requirements and the barriers to obtaining larger levels of support;

2. Whether or not to eliminate the status of certain districts (i.e., hold harmless districts) and, if so, how to do so;

3. Addressing the concern that hold harmless districts do not receive new monies with increased formula funding;

4. The method of determining the balance between local and state support, including the possibility of having state funds being used for certain expenditures and local funds for other expenditures;

5. Whether the existing formula adequately evaluates the relative wealth of local school districts; and

6. The goal of Level 2 funding and the effectiveness of achieving that goal.

D. Whether to direct, target or mandate the uses or application of existing or new funds provided by the state including, but not limited to, the following:

1. The use of Level 3 funding and its impact on hold harmless local school districts;

2. The impact of line item appropriations on hold harmless local school districts;

3. In the event new funds are added to the MFP, whether the MFP should direct local districts to use larger percentages of new funding for specific purposes such as for teacher salaries, accountability, remediation programs, and other classroom based supports;

4. The desirability of having state funds being dedicated for certain expenditures and local funds dedicated for other expenditures; and

5. The impact of existing BESE or legislative mandates on the ability of the local school districts to expend existing funds which are already directed, targeted or mandated, such as: state minimum teacher salary schedule laws, class size requirements, classroom instruction requirements, special education requirements, student remediation requirements, School and District Accountability requirements, transportation laws, and school food service requirements.

E. Modifying the MFP such that funding follows students to the place where they are being educated, by reviewing the following: part time student funding, multiple student count dates, and other means.

F. Greater simplification of the MFP formula, to the extent consistent with the goals of the MFP.

G. Evaluation of the existing method of providing legislative input in the development of the MFP, and developing appropriate methods to achieve greater legislative input.

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.

A. Six (6) members appointed by the governor, including:

1. The chief of staff, or the chief of staff's designee;

2. The commissioner of administration, or the commissioner's designee; and

3. Four (4) business, university, or community representatives.

B. Six (6) members representing the Louisiana Legislature, including:

1. Three (3) members of the Senate as appointed by the president of the Senate; and

2. Three (3) members of the House of Representatives as appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

C. Twelve (12) members as appointed by the president of BESE, including:

1. Five (5) BESE members;

2. The superintendent of the Department of Education, or the superintendent's designee; and

3. Six (6) school district or local school board representatives.

D. Three (3) teacher representatives, one each appointed by the following organizations: Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana Association of Educators, and Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana.

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.

Fox McKeithen
Secretary of State