MONTGOMERY — Alabama lawmakers began a series of meetings on Tuesday to consider possibly changing how the state funds K-12 public education before the 2025 legislative session begins.

Legislators passed a joint resolution in April mandating a study on "modernizing" K-12 school funding. 

The current Foundation Program formula provides funding to school districts based on the anticipated costs of resources and inputs, such as salaries, basic financial support for classrooms and operations money.

The Joint House and Senate Education Budget Committee studying the funding formula will also consider a student-based funding formula used in 41 other states where school districts receive funding based on the number of students enrolled or in attendance with additional funding being provided based on characteristics of the students of the district, such as low-income, poverty, disability and status as an English language learner, or a gifted student.

“Ultimately, this is the group that’s going to have to decide about the money. These two committees and what we’re going to do if we do anything, and that’s certainly a big if,” State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said during the committee meeting on Tuesday.

Six states, including Alabama, use a resource-based funding formula for K-12 education.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) said at the meeting, “We’ve not made any decisions.”

“We’re trying to gather information, gather the facts. We do know that everybody else in the country is moving in this type of direction. We’re one of six (states) that are left behind,” Garrett said. “We’re all aware of where our state stacks up on the national rankings when it comes to education. The Governor has indicated she wants to be at number 30 pretty quickly. Obviously, it’s going to take some change for us to get to that point.”

The study on modernizing the current K-12 school funding model into a student-based funding model, including any additional costs associated with the transition, is due on Feb. 1, 2025, before next year's legislative session.

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