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$75M increase in state aid sought for public schools by task force looking at funding concerns

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A school funding task force Tuesday suggested a $75 million boost in state aid for public schools next year, if dollars can be found to pay for it.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1DHCEpj ) the money represents a 2.75 percent increase that schools routinely received each year before the state faced continuing budget troubles.

The recommendation goes next for consideration to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which must forward a 2015-16 school funding proposal to lawmakers in March. State lawmakers can then accept or reject the request, but cannot change it.

The task force voted 17-2 to recommend the increase, but urged the state education board to make the request only after determining with lawmakers if funds are available to cover the cost.

Most of the discussion before Tuesday's vote focused on whether the task force should simply request what it thinks public schools need or take note of the fact that state services face a shortfall of more than $1 billion for the financial year that begins July 1.

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, supported the increase suggestion, saying the panel's responsibility was to public school students.

But Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, one of the two opponents on the panel, questioned what numbers justify a 2.75 percent increase.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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