The latest memo from the SBOE informs us that because of strong investment returns, the State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to increase the funding provided for school operations, instructional materials and technology to $2.212 billion in the 2020-2021 biennium, an increase of $172 million over its preliminary spending rate decision. This figure includes $55 million that the School Land Board agreed to send to the SBOE.
Both the education board and land board oversee the Permanent School Fund (PSF). The SBOE oversees investments of $34 billion, while the land board oversees about $9 billion. For the first time in the Permanent School Fund’s 160+ year history, the land board in August decided to bypass the SBOE and send funds only to the Available School Fund (ASF). Funds distributed through the SBOE are given a direct route to every classroom funding textbooks and technology.
The $600 million in land board funds will be unavailable to help fund new textbooks and technology unless the legislature intervenes and adds ASF dollars to the Technology and Instructional Materials Fund, something the legislature has not done historically. The SBOE has been actively encouraging the land board to reconsider its earlier decision. To my readers, you need to contact your tech people and have them contact their SBOE members to acquire this money. The $600 million could go a long way to improve and complete many of the technology needs of our schools.
In a meeting Monday, the three-member School Land Board maintained its initial $600 million decision but voted to send an additional $55 million to the PSF (Permanent School Fund).
It is wise to be very proactive on the additional $600 million. We need it earmarked for technology and textbooks.