At the Rose symposium, Governor Beshear defined his education funding goal as “keeping our hands off of [the SEEK formula] for two more years.” As with similar remarks last spring (blogged here), I think his words were precise.
His goal is to maintain the current formula itself, so that districts continue to be guaranteed a base level of funding per pupil plus add-on amounts for pupils in some categories of added need.
The guarantee, though, isn’t the amount the state pays. The state pays the amount not raised by the 30¢ local property tax (or the equivalent amount raised by other property taxes.
In all years since SEEK began, that local amount has grown, and thus far the Great Recession has not changed that trend. If the total guarantee is the same, and the local contribution is larger, that means the state contribution can be smaller in the coming biennium.
I think the Governor is planning on that and being honest about it.
Most audiences would not want him to take a detour to explain how the “SEEK formula” is different from the “state budget amount for SEEK funding.” For my blog audience, though, I think it’s worthwhile to be careful about following the nuances and limits of his funding commitment.