School aid changes clear BESE

Louisiana’s top school board endorsed changes Wednesday morning on how the state funds public schools that a special task force recommended.

The new policies are expected to be part of the spending plan submitted to the Louisiana Legislature by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The task force, which included superintendents, leaders of teacher groups and parents, approved the package earlier this month.

The wish list includes a 2.75 percent increase in school aid, which is about $70 million.

Local school districts would be free to spend the money as they wish.

The package also includes a new way to fund “course choice,” which offers public school students online and other ways to take hard-to-get classes and are offered by private providers.

The $3 million per year program is now financed largely through a federal fund.

Under the change, school districts could apply for a 90 percent state subsidy for costs of the courses.

Local school counselors and principals would retain control over student eligibility.

The task force also recommended a long-term study of the funding method, the Minimum Foundation Program, increased state aid for career courses linked to top-paying jobs and a state survey of technology readiness in each school district.

The need for improved technology stems from the move to more rigorous classes, which is called Common Core.

BESE is expected to finalize its funding request in March.

The Legislature can accept or reject the plan but cannot change it.

The 2014 regular legislative session begins on March 10.