WHEREAS, the total revenues supporting the Education Budget for FY 2011 are $1.5 billion less than the total of the FY 2008 Education Budget as adopted by the Alabama Legislature; and
WHEREAS, this unprecedented decrease in funds for education will make the creation and adoption of an adequate and balanced Education Budget for FY 2012 an extremely challenging task for Governor-Elect Robert Bentley and the members of the Alabama Legislature; and
WHEREAS, the State Board of Education in Alabama desires to identify budget issues and topics that are important to sustain academic growth in our schools and also foster sound fiscal management and to offer these insights to Governor-Elect Bentley and the members of the Alabama Legislature so a collaboratively developed FY 2012 Education Budget may be developed and adopted:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education does hereby adopt the following positions and offers the following observations and suggestions on key factors leading to the creation and adoption of the FY 2012 Education Budget:
- The FY 2012 Education Budget should maintain the FY 2011 distribution of available funds among K-12, Postsecondary and Higher Education.
FY 2011 distributions are 69.70%—K-12, 26.39%—Postsecondary and Higher Education, and 3.91%—Other State Expenditures. The Other State Expenditures should be analyzed to determine if any of those expenditures can be transferred to the General Fund, be reduced, or be eliminated, thus increasing the percentage share for K-12 and Postsecondary/Higher Education proportionately.
- Appropriations to the 132 local school boards and the Department of Education should allow for increased flexibility of expenditures among line items as needed and determined by the personnel accountable for their funds.
- Education employee benefits should be level-funded in FY 2012 at the FY 2011 amount.
- Consideration should be given to amending and increasing the current law that allows for retirement with full benefits after 25 years of service, regardless of the age of the retiree, and explore increasing the minimum age to 60 (new employees only).
- Consideration should be given to amending the current law that requires employees to pay 5% of their salary as the employee contribution to retirement since this percentage has been in effect since 1975.
- Existing laws and regulations regarding corporate and individual income taxes should be closely evaluated to be certain that all individuals and corporations are paying their fair share of taxes as the vast majority of Alabamians are currently doing.
- Each line item of the FY 2011 Education Budget should be carefully evaluated regarding the amount of funding and the wording associated with the line item to determine if it should be included, included as amended, or eliminated from the FY 2012 Education Budget.
- Funds should be allocated to replace federal stimulus funds that will not be available in the FY 2012 Education Budget. Most notably of these funds are the $157 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds that are in Other Current Expenses since these funds helped retain 5,687 essential education employees.
- The increase from 12.51% to 12.75% of the Employer’s Share in Retirement costs for all state-funded certificated and support workers must be included in the FY 2012 Education Budget ($6,891,320).
- The laws on arbitration for certificated employees and support workers need to be amended and reinstate a role for local boards of education to make the process fair, timely, and to restore public confidence.
- This resolution carries two attachments. Attachment A is the absolute minimum dollar appropriation for K-12 that will allow the 132 school systems to operate and have some semblance of a successful school year for 2011-12. Attachment B is a proposed budget that reinstates a portion of lost state fiscal support from the previous three Education Budgets and it better enables each of the 132 school systems in Alabama to operate schools and afford teachers and students a better opportunity to have a successful school year for 2011.12.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education recognizes that given the complexities of developing and funding a FY 2012 Education Budget that avoids proration, yet maintains essential funding to vital programs, consideration may have to be given to temporarily decreasing the number of days in the contracts of all K-12 personnel and/or temporarily decreasing the number of teacher units funded by the state, thus raising class sizes.
Done, this the 9th day of December, 2010.