Some Funds Slated for Districts to Go to 'Course Choice'

Jun 19, 2013

The state's top school board has approved $2 million in financing to pay for students to take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn't offer a course they want.

The money for the "Course Choice" program will be drawn from a state education trust fund stemming from an old oil drilling settlement, including $1 million that had been slated for local districts.

Board of Elementary and Secondary and Education member Walter Lee said during debate Tuesday the state had been careful in the past to split the annual fund disbursement evenly with local districts. With the Course Choice spending, districts will get the smaller share in a 44/52 split.

"And it makes it obvious that that local reduction is going to Course Choice, which is what the MFP was doing until the court ruled against it," Lee said.

The previous financing plans were nixed by a state Supreme Court decision that said the new classes couldn't be paid for with the pool of money mandated for the support of public schools in the funding formula known as the MFP.

As many as 3,000 students could enroll in Course Choice classes, some of which will be taught online. The Dept. of Education had aimed to enroll 4,500 before the court shuttled the original financing scheme, and enrollments are now being limited to high school courses.

About 450 students have applied so far, with a heavy emphasis on construction industry apprenticeships and Advanced Placement and Algebra 1 classes that are not available in many schools.