The bill creates the 'Rewarding Excellence With Annual Redirected Dollars Act' or 'REWARD Act' (program) to award excellence funding to school districts that achieve a level of success in student performance above that of their peer districts. The bill defines 'school district' to include school districts and the state charter school institute (institute).
The bill directs the department of education (department) to annually identify peer school districts by categorizing all school districts as either non-rural or rural, as defined in the bill, and then group the school districts within those categories based on demographically similar student populations. Once peer school districts are identified, the department shall compare those school districts to determine which school districts outperform their peer school districts using objective measures of student performance. The bill includes eligibility criteria for participation in the program.
The department shall annually award excellence funding to the top 6 highest-performing non-rural school districts and to the top 6 highest-performing rural school districts, for a total of 12 districts.
The program is funded by redirecting 1% of statewide total program funding, after application of the negative factor, for the applicable budget year. The department shall reduce the state's share of total program funding for the applicable budget year by the amount of excellence funding, proportionately reducing each school district's state share of total program funding.
The department shall distribute 15% of the excellence funding to the top 12 highest-performing school districts in equal shares, and the remaining 85% of excellence funding to those school districts on a per-pupil basis. School districts, including the institute, shall transfer to a district charter school or an institute charter school 100% of the charter school's per-pupil allocation of the total amount of excellence funding received by the school district or the institute.
The program is implemented beginning in the 2018-19 budget year, and excellence funding is based on the school districts' student performance in the budget year immediately preceding the applicable budget year.
The department shall reduce the amount of excellence funding by the department's reasonable and necessary direct costs incurred in implementing the program.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)