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INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  38

 

POLICY CODE:  DB

 

 

TO:                Superintendents of Schools

 

FROM:          J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner

 

DATE:           January 16, 2003

 

RE:                GPA Planning for FY 2003-04

 

As you know, last December I recommended a FY 04 GPA appropriation of $743.3 million, representing a 2.7% increase over the FY 03 GPA appropriation.  At that time, I presented to the State Board of Education two plans for the distribution of this GPA appropriation: one based on current statute, and one based on Essential Programs and Services.

 

By law, Governor Baldacci, during this first year of his tenure as governor, has until February 7 to present his recommended budget for the biennium to the Legislature.  During the remaining weeks before this deadline, Governor Baldacci must resolve many significant issues regarding the projected FY04/FY05 shortfall that is currently estimated at approximately $1 billion.  One of the significant issues facing the Governor is the level of the FY ’04-‘05 GPA appropriation to include in his proposed budget.  The Governor’s responsibility and perspective covers the gamut of government programs and services.  Given the State’s fiscal situation, the Governor may feel that he is unable to recommend a GPA appropriation at the level I proposed.

 

This situation leads to the timeliness and basis for the subsidy printouts (ED 261) that are sent to each school unit each year at this time.  It is important that the first GPA printout for FY04 be as grounded in reality as is possible.  Naturally, until the Governor has determined his GPA proposal, any printout would be speculative and therefore undependable as a starting point for developing your FY04 budget.  Thus, as soon as possible after the Governor has announced his decisions regarding GPA, the Department will prepare and forward to you a printout that matches his GPA proposal.

 

A printout that displays each school administrative unit’s key demographics (number of students and state valuation), profiling changes from FY03 to FY04 is available at http://www.maine.gov/education/edletrs/2003/ilet/ilet38prelimpupilsvals.xls   As you know, changes in these two demographics are key indicators of whether your GPA is likely to increase or decrease next year, and by how much.  Those superintendents and assistant superintendents who attend the Annual Winter Convocation of MSSA will receive a hard copy of this printout.

You may find the following table to be useful in helping you to determine the direction of GPA change based on fluctuations in pupil count and state valuation. 

 

These types of demographic changes

 

(from FY03 to FY04)…

…will likely result in the

Pupil Changes

State Valuation

following type of GPA

 

Changes

change (from FY03 to

(as compared to the

(as compared to the

FY04):

statewide change)

statewide change)

 

“Big” increase

“Big” decrease

“Big” increase in GPA

“Big” increase

“Small” decrease

“Moderate” increase in GPA

“Small” increase

“Big” decrease

“Moderate” increase

“Moderate” decrease

“Big” decrease

“Small” increase

“Moderate” decrease in GPA

“Small” decrease

“Big” increase

“Moderate” decrease

“Moderate” increase

“Big” decrease

“Big” increase

“Big” decrease in GPA

 

Importantly, the table above and the magnitude and direction of change in GPA is also strongly impacted by the amount of the state’s GPA appropriation.  Obviously, more GPA strengthens increases, while tempering decreases; the corollary is true:  less GPA minimizes increases, while exacerbating decreases. 

 

Naturally, the guidance suggested by the above table is general and somewhat rough.  You are advised to also consider other local matters, such as whether your Debt Service total payments will change or whether the number and composition of your special education students will change.  However, I believe that this demographic information is a starting point for you, pending the Governor’s recommended level of funding for GPA.

 

Be assured that I understand your need for more exact GPA calculations to assist with your challenging budget deliberations.  To reiterate, the Department will provide a printout to you as soon as possible after Governor Baldacci has determined what he will propose for a GPA appropriation.  However, I caution you in advance that before final legislative action occurs on a GPA appropriation and on distribution methods, many other competing GPA proposals will probably be considered, and many other GPA printouts will be prepared and debated.  The legislative session could very well extend into June.  While final legislative decisions regarding GPA may occur much earlier, there are no guarantees.

 

Stay tuned.