Senators Walt Helmick (D-Pocohantas), John Unger (D-Berkeley) and Robert Plymale (D-Wayne), co-sponsors of Senate Bill 604, joined members of the State Senate today in passing the measure which would establish a method for projecting the increases in net enrollment for each school district in the state.
Current law states that the Legislature is not required to provide any specific level of funding for increased net enrollments. However, Governor Manchin’s budget has placed $6 million to adequately fund this legislation.
“By projecting increases in net enrollment, school districts in counties that have seen population booms can finally receive the appropriate amount of funding to adequately run their schools,” stated Senator Plymale, the Senate Education Chairman. “If we can assess the projected growth before it happens and allocate the necessary monies, then schools will be prepared and will be able to meet the needs of their students when they are first enrolled.”
This bill would require that funds for increased net enrollment be appropriated by the Legislature and would cover children under the age of five. It also would require the State Board to promulgate a rule setting forth a method for projecting increased enrollment to cut out the two month lag time.
“School districts have been needing this change for some time and as the school enrollments increase in high growth counties throughout the state, the funds necessary to keep up with that growth must be readily available,” said Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick.
The State Superintendent would make a first distribution of 60 percent of the funds based on enrollment projections yearly by September 1st. The Superintendent would make the second distribution of the remaining 40 percent of the funds yearly by December 31st, based on the actual enrollment figures.
The final allocation by each school district is to be the amount based on actual enrollment. If the first distribution was greater than the total amount a district is to receive for the year, the district would then refund the difference to the Department of Education prior to June 30th of the fiscal year in which the surplus distribution was made.
“As a Senator from a high growth area, this legislation is severely needed,” stated Senator John Unger. “Schools should receive funding based on the amount of students they are projected to have so there are no gaps in educational services provided to students living in increasingly populated counties.”
Mr. Manny Arvon, Superintendent of Berkeley County Schools, supports the Senate’s passage of the legislation, stating, “As Superintendent for the last seven years dealing with this huge challenge, this is the first time a solution has been presented to solve this issue. To the Eastern Panhandle residents, this is an indication that the Senate recognizes the past inequities in funding increased enrollment and has stepped up to address this important issue for our community.”]