Joint Education Committee
Aug. 8, 2022
Irvin Do I have a motion to approve the minutes from the last meeting? So moved. Second. All those in favor, say aye. And opposed? Ayes have it and those minutes will be approved. All right. We will move to item D. Ms. Bowen. And everybody’s at the table, so, hi. If you guys will just introduce yourself for the record and then we’ll get started and make sure this systematically. Thank you. All questions will be held until the end of the agenda. Oh, okay. Sorry. I was like, she already has a question. All right. If you’ll just introduce yourselves for the record. Thank you.
Holt Sure. Julie Holt, Bureau of Legislative Research.
Beck Adrienne Beck, also at the Bureau.
Bowen Lori Bowen, Bureau of Legislative Research.
Beck Great. So we’ll go ahead and get started. We’re going to be looking at the equity in public school funding and expenditures report. You should have both the hand– the slides and the– or the PowerPoint slides and the report in front of you. That should be handouts D1 and D2. And as a reminder, going back to our Adequacy report checklist, this is the equity part down at the very bottom here that we’re crossing off today. But with that, we’ll go ahead and get started. So we’re going to start briefly by providing some historical context. So Elizabeth and Taylor addressed this back at the beginning of this in January. So we won’t go too deep here. But as a reminder, equity has been a key component of achieving and maintaining a constitutionally sound system of funding education in Arkansas going back to 1983. So Judge Kilgore in his final order back in 2001 declared the current school funding system to be unconstitutional on the twin grounds of in Adequacy under the education article and inequity under the equality provisions of the Arkansas Constitution. So in order to achieve a constitutional system, the state must address both the adequacy and equity provisions embedded within the Arkansas Constitution. So the court acknowledged that equity is not simply a matter of equal distribution of dollars for each child, but rather the state must take into account disparities that impact a child’s ability to receive an equal opportunity for an adequate education. So to measure these disparities, the court notes that the focus must be on actual expenditures. And in the past, the court has focused on– has relied on the federal range ratio, and to a lesser extent, the coefficient of variation in the Gini coefficient to measure disparities and determine equity. So equity in public school funding has been measured using three different approaches. So this includes horizontal equity, fiscal neutrality, and vertical equity measures. And these approaches and the various statistical measures within each are consistent with past Adequacy equity reports. So Julie and I will first go over the horizontal equity measures, and these measure the degree to which districts receive equal resources on variables such as foundation funding. Julie will then look at the fiscal neutrality measures, and these measure inequities between districts that may arise from differences in property wealth. And then Lori will close it out by going over vertical equity measures. And these are used to assess the equity of spending according to key district characteristics. And we’ll examine per pupil expenditures within other categories of other variables, such as the percentage of students receiving free or reduced price lunch, average daily membership, racial, ethnic, demographic information, or amounts of property, property wealth– excuse me. And then for each of these sections, we’ll give you an overview of the terminology used within each of those before presenting the analysis results. So for the purposes of today’s presentation, we won’t go too deep in the weeds of the math, but they will be included in your report. But we’ll give you a broad overview of each of those, what they– those measures and what they represent. With that, some terminology you’ll see referenced throughout the presentation, particularly within the horizontal and fiscal neutrality measure sections. So these are the two types of revenues that will be used as a basis of those two analyses. So we have the first one, which is foundation funding and property taxes per student. So as you can see, that’s foundation funding, net property taxes. 98% of the uniform rate of tax are URT and miscellaneous funds. And our second revenue type includes all of that plus our categorical funds, such as the English language learner fund, alternative learning environment, professional development, and enhanced student achievement, and the supplemental fund. So that includes your isolated, growth, declining, special education, high cost occurrences, ESA matching, and enhanced transportation. With that, we’ll get started with our horizontal equity measures. And we’re going to split these up into two different parts. So I’m going to first go over the measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion. And then Julia will go over the McLoone Index and the Gini coefficient. So we’ll start by defining what the measures of central tendency and dispersion are. So the measures of central tendency are ways of showing the center point of the data or the typical values. And then the measures of dispersion are showing how values will vary across the districts, so how they compare against each other in terms of funding. So those measures of central tendency that we’ll use today, this is the mean or average and the median. So average, we, we use that frequently. This is a way of characterizing the typical or expected values. And then the median is the middle funding value if all values were arranged lowest to highest or vice versa. So both of these measure, again, tendency or location, but the median is sometimes more appropriate if there are more extreme values in your data. So looking at our measures of dispersion, we’re going to have four of these that we’ll include today. The first one is the restricted range. So when we think of a range, that’s the difference between your lowest and your highest value. If you were to separate that into 100 equal percentiles and then only show the difference between your 5th and 95th, that would be your restricted range. Another way of saying that would be if you were to show the range of values if you excluded the outliers in your data. So that would be your restricted range. Next, we’ll have the federal range ratio. So this is using that restricted range and dividing it by your 5th percentile of data. So this is another way of interpreting the spread of your data. So the higher this ratio is going to be, the more data, the data is spread, which suggests less equity. And the rule of thumb for this is that the preferred value is less than– no more than 0.25. And we’ll go over what Arkansas’ is here shortly. And then our final two measures of dispersion include standard deviation and the coefficient of variation. And these look at how values deviate from the average or that mean value, essentially how spread out are they from the average. So some examples of that are kind of just shown here as a visual way of kind of thinking about how they might be real clustered close together on the average or more spread out. And the standard deviation is the extent to which funding values deviate from the average value. So a smaller standard deviation would indicate that the data tends to be close to the average, which indicates a more equitable distribution. A higher standard deviation would indicate greater variability or less equity in distribution. And then finally the coefficient of variation is just showing the extent of the variation in funding values with respect to the mean. So with that, we’ll show our first set of numbers. And if you’re following along in the report or the PowerPoint, this is on slide 12 of page 4 of your PowerPoint handout or page 2 of the report, depending on where you’re following along there. But these are the horizontal equity measures by revenue type. And we’ll start with that first revenue type. Again, this is just foundation and property taxes. So you’ll see that in 2021, districts received on average $8,145 per student. And this has increased over the past few years. You’ll see the trend for these measures for both revenue types. The median amount received was $7,988 per student. For that restricted range, this was $2,897. That federal range ratio was 0.42 in 2021. The standard deviation was 1,223. So that means on average, each district’s funding value deviated from the average by about $1,200. And then finally, the coefficient of variation or the average variation was 0.15 or 15%. So that suggests that overall variability in the funding values across districts is quite stable and doesn’t exceed 15% of the mean in all years. And then our second revenue type, again, this is our foundation, property taxes, plus categorical and supplemental funds. So you’ll see here the numbers are generally higher than the first revenue type. So for this funding, this type of revenue, districts receive on average $9,142 per student. That median amount was $8,950. The restricted range was $3,782. Our federal range ratio is at 0.50. The standard deviation was 1,305. And finally, that coefficient of variation was 0.14 or 14%, again, suggesting that the funding values across districts is stable. And with that, I will pass it over to Julie.
Holt So the next two measures we’re looking at, and we’re still looking at revenues per student, but these are two index numbers. And what an index number does is really boil a lot of data down into one number so you can get some meaning out of it. So the first one we’re looking at is called the McLoone Index. And this is something the courts have referred to in the Lake View decisions. And this basically looks at the lower distribution, lower half of the distribution of school districts. So as Adrienne had talked about that median, if you lined all the school districts up by the revenue per student value, that one in the very middle would be the median. So the McLoone is going to look at all of the districts below that. It will produce a value that ranges from 0 to 1. And if we get closer to 1, that means we’ve got more equality. Excuse me. So it helps me to think of it in terms of this question. So how does the sum of the revenue values in the bottom half of districts compare to a hypothetical world where each district in the bottom half were to have funding equal to the district at the median? So we’re going to look at a hypothetical set of districts. This is our hypothetical world with seven districts. So the median district– there are three districts above it, but we’re not worried about them here– the median district has a revenue per student of $1,000. And if you look at the three behind it– C, Y, and X– they also have a $1,000 per student. So if that were the case, you’d get a McLoone value of 1. So now we’ll look at Arkansas. And you can see when we again look at those two different sets of revenue streams, that we’re getting values very, very close to 1. So we can feel like the revenue per student in that lower part, lower half of the school districts is fairly or quite equal. So next, we’re going to move to the Gini coefficient of inequality. This one looks at, considers all the values for all the school districts. And importantly, it measures, it works with cumulative values. It also produces a number from 0 to 1. And this time, if you’re closer to 0, you’re more equal. So if you graphed this out– a lot of times when you hear about the Gini coefficient, it’s talking about income inequality. But it’s also been used in Lake View and throughout educational literature to look at equity among revenues. So we’ve done that with past revenue– I mean, past, past equity reports. And so we’re replicating that here. But the way to think about it is if every person in this frame represented a school district, and we all had the same revenue per student, then you could take this 10% of people over here, add up all their revenue per student, and you would end up on, on the line with this line of equality. Because 10% of the school districts would– oh, sorry, I need you to click– would represent 10% of all the revenue that’s represented. And you would keep on going up– I need you to keep clicking– so that 20% of the school districts would account for 20% of the revenue, on up to 70%. But as we know, that kind of equality doesn’t happen that often. So if you’ll go on to the next slide. You get, when you graph it out, you see– back to where you are I’m sorry– what’s called the Lorenz curve. And here you see that on this particular Lorenz curve, 10% of the school districts would account for 2% of the revenues for students. So we go on to the next slide. You can see how that can range. So you can start over here. In diagram number 1, you’ve got that perfect line of equality where every, every district has the same amount of revenue per student. As you move to the right, it gets less equal and less equal until that one on the very right represents complete inequality, where nobody has any revenue per student except for that district that’s over there in the 100th percentile. So keep those in mind and we’re going to look at what’s happening with Arkansas. And again, we’re using those two revenue streams. So for our first one, foundation funding and property tax per student, you can see that our values are very close to 0, so very close to equality. And again, you can see that blue line, that represents your Lorenz curve, how closely it hugs your red line of equality. So we can feel good there. So on the next slide, we’ll add in those other revenue streams for Adequacy. And you can see while the inequality maybe inches up just a little bit, it’s still very equal. And you can see that both represented in the coefficient number and on the graph. And those graphs are on page 4 of your report. And the tabular data is in the same table on page 2 with Adrienne’s numbers. So next we’re going to talk about fiscal neutrality. And this is our last discussion of revenues. And fiscal neutrality really joins two measures together. The first is the wealth neutrality correlation. And as Adrienne said earlier, what we’re looking at here is how closely does property wealth in a district define the revenue per student. And a correlation you’ve heard us talk about before, they’re measuring how two variables move together, so in this case, property wealth and that per student revenue. Correlations range from a -1, which means that those variables are moving in completely opposite directions, to a +1, where it’s just moving lockstep together. And if it’s close to 0, there’s no relationship. So if you get a positive number, which I’ll let you know in this case we do, you’ll next want to look at what’s called the wealth elasticity. And that is, if you have done regression in statistics or if you’ve done geometry where you do the formula for a line, this is basically the slope of the line. So whenever property wealth goes up, how fast does that revenue per student go up? And in a case where there’s inequality, you worry about the revenue per student going up too fast with that property wealth. So again, we’re going to look at what happens in Arkansas. And you can see that– and we’ve cut things up a little bit differently. So this page is looking at that first revenue string, and that’s the property tax and foundation funding. And you can see that our correlation values are pretty close to 1. So that shows that they do move together. But what’s important here is that the wealth elasticity number is very low. So every time property wealth goes up $1, you’re looking at like 16 to 18 cents in terms of your revenue per student. So according to the literature, including Odden and Picus, who has been consultants for Arkansas, that, that’s a good sign. That, that means we’re in pretty good shape as far as equality. This bottom table– sorry, go back to that next one– the bottom table, what we’ve done there is taken out the URT districts. And if you’ll remember the URT districts are what we call those districts whose property wealth raises more than they need to supply the foundation funding for their students. So when we take those out, you can see the correlations go down. And that’s because we’re taking out the highest value of property wealth in the highest value of per student revenue. And when you get rid of that, you can see there’s less of a relationship, and you can also see those elasticity numbers decrease as well. So the next slide is all of the revenue together. And you can see the patterns are very much the same, although the correlations are not quite as strong, and the elasticity numbers are also smaller. And that concludes our discussion of revenues. So I’ll continue on with the third and final analysis of equity, and it’s the vertical equity analysis. And this analysis involves the concept that students in districts with differing circumstances and characteristics can require different levels of funding to address the differences that exist district to district. In addition, the statutory requirements for Adequacy also require that we look at these district characteristics and their relationship to district cost. So therefore, as we’ve done in previous studies, the vertical equity portion of this analysis will look at two expenditure variables’ relationship with the following four characteristics, which is the school district size or average daily membership, the school district’s percentage of students that are nonwhite, the school district’s percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch, and district property wealth. The data measuring these district characteristics are sometimes used to provide additional funding in addition to the foundation rate that each district receives to address additional educational needs. For example, the enhanced student achievement or ESA funding is additional funding provided on top of foundation for those districts based on their percentage of free and reduced price lunch. So as they have more economically disadvantaged students, the rate of ESA funding goes up. Another example is declining enrollment in student growth funding are determined by the changes in ADM counts for districts. The two expenditure variables that we look at and that’ll be examined in these charts that we’ll look at in just a moment are per student expenditures from select state funding sources and per student expenditures from all funding sources that districts have available to them. And to eliminate the effect of temporary increases or decreases in spending trends, we are eliminating facilities or facility acquisition construction costs and also debt service payments. Similar to the revenue portion of the analysis, we are looking at the revenues that you see on the screen for the select state funding. It includes foundation, property taxes, the state categorical funding, declining enrollment, growth, etc. In the total or expenditures from all fund sources, it includes, as the name would imply, expenditures from all fund sources, including federal. For each of the following charts that you’ll see, we’re going to see each district’s or charter’s per student expenditures are arrayed according to their value for each of these district characteristics. So for example, the per student expenditures for those districts with the lowest ADM count are going to be in decile 1, and we’ll put the average of all those districts in decile 1. That’s what you’ll see in the chart. And then the next decile will do the next lowest ADM count districts, their average expenditures. And it’ll go on so on until you reach decile 10, which is going to be the districts with the largest ADM counts in the state. And we’ll replicate that for each of those four district characteristics. The report first looks at the per student expenditures from select state funding and ADM. And the vertical axis shows the per student funding and the horizontal shows the average salaries– excuse me– the average expenditures for each ADM decile. The average per student expenditure for decile 1 comprised all those districts with the lowest ADM. And just to go over so you kind of see how to read this chart, so decile 1, in 2019 their average expenditures were $9,091. It was $9,247 in 2020 and then $9,888 in 2021. Similarly, if you look at decile 10, their 2019 expenditures on average were $8,194, culminating with $8,384 in 2021. And the overall trend that you see there is that the lower ADM schools spent significantly more than did the other deciles on a per student basis. Chart 2 examines the relationship between the per student expenditures from select state funding sources and the percentage of nonwhite or minority students. Those districts with the highest percentage of nonwhite students, found in decile 10, spent more per student than all the other deciles. And the districts with the lowest percentage of nonwhite students in decile 1 spent approximately 11% less in 2019, 13% less in 2020, and 9% less in 2021 than those districts in the 10th decile. Chart 3 examines the third district characteristic or the percentage of students that are eligible for free and reduced price lunches. And it shows a gradual upward trend in per student expenditures across all of the deciles, culminating with decile 10 having the greatest expenditures per student. In fact, the districts with the lowest percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches in decile 1 spent 23% less in 2019, 22% less in 2020, and 20% less in 2021 than decile 10. The last chart that we examined per student expenditures from those select state funding categories are for per student property wealth. There is an upward trend, a general gradual upward trend across the deciles for this particular district characteristic, with the highest for student expenditures found in decile 10, where the districts have the highest per student property wealth values. It’s important to note that those districts that are referred to as URT districts, which Julie referenced earlier, are those that are able to generate all of their foundation funding through their uniform rate of tax or 25 mills. They are found among the top spending districts on a per student basis. While charters do not have property tax wealth as a source of revenue for their schools’ operations, their average per student expenditures are provided just for a comparison and are greater than the per student expenditures for deciles 1 through 4 in 2019 and 2020 and greater than deciles 1 through 6 for school year 2021. The next four charts that you can see in your report are charts 5 through 8, and they examine the relationship with the same four district characteristics, but with using all funds expenditures per student, not the select state funding per student. Chart 5 shows the relationship between per student expenditures from all funding sources in the ADM. And similar to Chart 1, its counterpart under the select state funding, it shows that districts in the lowest deciles, 1 and 2, with the lowest ADMs, spent more than any other deciles on a per student basis. You’ll also notice, and this will be a recurring pattern for the next three charts as well, 2021 expenditures exceed the 2019 and 2020 expenditures a little more significantly. They kind of track. They were a little bit on top of each other in those first four graphs or a little– much closer. And it could be that this is attributable to the infusion of a large amount of federal funding to help districts address the COVID19 pandemic. Chart 6 shows the relationship between total per student expenditures from all funding sources and the district and charter’s percentage of nonwhite students. And similar to its counterpart, chart 2, chart 6 shows that those districts with the highest percentage of nonwhite students found in decile 10 spent more than any other decile. The nonwhite– the percentage with the lowest nonwhite student population in decile 1 spent approximately 14% less in 2019, 17% less in 2020, and 15% less in 2021. Chart 7, or the total expenditures per student by the percentage that are eligible for free and reduced price lunches, shows a pattern similar to chart 2 in that all those, those districts with the highest percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches spent more than any other decile. And finally, we’ll see our final chart for this portion of the vertical analysis. Chart 8 looks at per student expenditures from all sources and the districts for student property wealth. And it, again, follows a very similar pattern, with those districts in decile 10 spending more than those with the lower property wealth per student in decile 1. So overall, the trend for charts 1 through 4 and 5 through 8 showed that the districts in charters that spent the most are those districts in charters with the lowest ADM count, the highest percentage nonwhite student population, the highest percentage of free and reduced price lunch eligible students, and those districts with the highest per student property wealth. The final measure for the vertical portion of this report is the federal range ratio. As Adrienne mentioned earlier, the courts use this as a measure and so we continue– we’ve been replicating the previous studies to show what’s happened over time. And due to the federal court’s use of this measure, we’ve used it again. And we show it for 2019, 2020, and 2021. As mentioned before, this shows the range of per student expenditure. So it’s possible to see the percentage amount that the highest restricted range value or 95th percentile is spending above the lowest restricted range value or the 5th. For example, in 2021, district spending at the 95th percentile spent 50% more than district spending at the 5th from select state funding sources. And then district spending at the 95th percentile from all state funding sources spent 66% more than the 5th percentile. Again, some possible things to think about as you’re looking at those measures are the fact that there was a large infusion of federal money that was not present before 2021 to any significant degree. And that could be fueling that range ratio increase to some degree. And it’s also possible that the extra resources that have been provided since the Lake View decision and when the court originally used that measure, new additional fund sources have been infused that could be fueling that dispersion a little more, too, such as enhanced student achievement funding, English language learner, and alternative learning environment. So with that, we’ll be happy to take any questions. And thank you for your attention.
Irvin Thank you. Does the report have an average, an average ADM for each decile? Did y’all have that for what the average ADM would be for like D1, D2?
Holt Yes. And it’s in your– it should be in your appendices.
Holt It will show you that it’s– if you look on page 15 of your report, you can see for like 2019, decile 1 under ADM, decile 1 represented all those districts with 374–.
Irvin I found it.
Holt –less than 374 students.
Irvin Got it.
Holt And the same will be true for the nonwhite percentages, free and reduced lunch, and property wealth values per student.
Irvin Okay, got it. Thank you. Appreciate that. Okay, questions? I’m going to go to members of the committee. That’s what my Representative Cozart established last meeting. Senator Elliott, you’re recognized for a question.
Elliott Thank you, Madam Chair. When we started out and we talked about, there was some distinguishing discussion between equity and equality. So, in the end, with all the discussion, is– what’s, what’s the determination? That we’re both– that we are equitable or we are not equitable? What’s the bottom line here that our spending is?
Holt A lot of these measures show equity. The one that probably stands out as questionable is the federal range ratio. And we’ve done a lot of looking at trying to see what’s going on with that. We know that when y’all had this presentation last time, it was 2018, and some of the legal analysis that was brought forth said that one of the differences is that 0.25 was set by the courts back before categorical funds were added to address equity. So when you put those categorical funds on top of foundation, which is equal, you’re not doing equal funding, but you’re addressing equity. So some of what we’re seeing with these numbers may be the state’s attempt to address equity.
Elliott I know when we started out with the categoricals in particular and then with some other measures like the priority school funding, we were trying to reach equity back then when the judge told us to go back and rethink. This was in 2003, I think, when he said you need to go back and rethink this. I would assume we need to understand that those categoricals and any funding beyond the foundation, that’s what’s helping us get to equity instead of just looking at equality. Correct?
Holt I would say that’s correct.
Elliott Yeah. Okay. And do we know for the districts that are able to– the URT districts– for those districts that are able to spend funding beyond the foundation funding, so to speak, do we know or have any information about what they spend it for generally? I guess they can spend it on whatever they wish, I assume, but do we have any information about that?
Holt We’ve not pulled out that. Have you looked at that, the URT schools and their spending patterns?
Bowen [shakes head no]
Elliott And finally, I think one of the things the public always looks at as some kind of measure– you go to a school district and the football fields or the gym looks like something that is larger than a lot of our state institutions. Sometimes people confuse that that’s money that’s been spent from foundation funding, which it’s not. Because you pulled out facilities, you mentioned, in the report, I noticed. And I just wanted to just flag that because sometimes, you know, I get a lot of discussion about facilities that’s mixed up with that foundation funding. So I just wanted to just have people– ask people to think more deeply about that when you make those assumptions or ask questions.
Bowen I could just add one thing. We did look at, on the URT schools, if I understood your question correctly. There’s often other things going on at the same time. Some of them are small, as well as how many have high property wealth. So it could be that the size of the denominator in that calculation is smaller and that could also drive up that per student cost. I think a couple of them have high poverty as well. So it could be a multiple, you know, multiple of factors that are driving those numbers, as well as just property wealth.
Elliott Okay. All right. Thank you. Thanks, Madam Chair.
Irvin Thank you. Representative Love.
Love Thank you, Madam Chair. Going back to the, the slide in which you had the decile, the decile 10, and you were looking at nonwhite, and then we were looking at the expenditures that was, that were, that were accounted for, and it looked like the expenditures were higher than– and this is, this is– the expenditures are higher than they were in decile 1 and decile 2. Could we find out what those, what those expenditures are in those districts?
Bowen Yes, sir. I don’t think the data that we have compiled is, is done in that particular way. But yes, we can certainly look at the, what the expenditures, what they’re spending money on.
Love Okay. Because I would be interested– yeah, I would be interested to see, number one, how the funding was spent. And then also number two is, I’m going to assume that– where is the Little Rock School District in these deciles?
Bowen I can look that up if you’ll give me just a quick moment. It depends on which one you’re looking at. You’re looking at nonwhite, though?
Bowen Just a moment. I can look that up.
Love I mean, but I guess when districts float between these deciles–
Irvin Rep. Love, look, look on page 15 of this handout, D2. Because I, I had the kind of the same questions you had as to like what the percentage of non-whites were for each decile, because it’s just, it’s higher– you know, it’s higher in, in some than others.
Love All right. You said page 15.
Irvin Does that make sense? Page 15.
Bowen And it changes from year to year. But in 2019, the Little Rock district was in decile 10 with 81.04% nonwhite. If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll find it for you. In 2020, it was in decile 9, and it was 80.77% nonwhite. And in 2021, it was in decile 10 again. It went down to decile 10 again– or up to, excuse me– and it was 80.77, again, percent nonwhite.
Love Okay. All right. I’m going, I’m going to look at this and then I’ll, I’ll probably just follow up with you all in regards to some questions because I want to look at what the, the expenditures were used for and also if– how this ranks as far as, you know, if, if schools are under state control versus they’re not under state control, what they can use the money for. Because I’m very interested in and seeing how all this plays out. So I’ll hold my questions. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Irvin Yes, sir. Representative Cozart.
Cozart Just a question about, would catastrophic and special ed make these rise and the cost be a little more? Is that shown or reflected in these?
Bowen I don’t think in the expenditures that we did it by programmatic area. I do know that the special ed and catastrophic– I guess it didn’t turn on. I’m sorry. We don’t have it broken out by category of program, programmatically how the money was spent, but–
Cozart So it should all be involved in that.
Bowen But special ed catastrophic is one of the categories that’s included both on the revenue side as well as the expenditure side. Both– and it’s in both of the categories on the expenditure side, both in the select, as well as the all funds expenditures.
Cozart Okay. That’s just one I was curious about. Thank you.
Irvin Okay. Are there other questions from members of the committee? All right. Thank you. Very good information, very in depth. I think it just breaks down the finances to a– to where, you know– we say this all the time. I mean, the state of Arkansas is such a beautiful state and it’s so diverse in its geography and its people. It’s really hard to boil all that down. I think what– similar what Senator Elliott was talking about. It’s really hard to reach equity when you have such diversity in the state. And that’s what’s so complicated about this process is that it is absolutely not a one size fits all approach, but we try to do that, you know, through this mandate that we have. That’s why the Adequacy process is complicated, and that’s why it’s so important for us to try to just boil it down to the numbers and to the different measures and indexes that you included, I think, were very important. Because it is hard, I think, for people to understand, well, gosh, they must have a ton of money. Y’all are giving them a lot more money because look at that big fancy gym and arena when that’s not the case, you know. So it is, it’s hard, I think, to explain that sometimes. So this is, this is– I appreciate very much. If there are no other questions. Before we go to E, while y’all are there at the table, we do have some issues in front of us that I want to be able to work with you. And I think there’s several of us are going to work with you to try to do an assessment on school safety measures and just in preparation for what we’re anticipating. But I think it’s important for us to understand a baseline as to where schools are and what their needs might be. So that’s really what we want to do. And I also wanted, you know, we had some previous questions about the different activities that may be going on with our SRO’s and what the schools are facing with our, with our SROo’s in particular. So we want to try to combine all of that, members, and have some specific committee meetings on just this issue. And those will be upcoming probably in September as we’re kind of working with the Department of Ed in the Governor’s office on trying to, to finalize and figure out what that grant program really needs to be for our schools. Representative Evans, I know, is working on this. Do you have anything else you want to add to that? But we’ll get with you on the particular questions because we just want to make sure that the money is going to be spent on worthwhile, you know, good integrated technologies or whatever. But we kind of need to know a baseline as well. So, with that, we’ll move on to– okay, let me, let me move on about what I just said– oh, to them. Okay. Senator Chesterfield.
Chesterfield Thank you, Madam Chair. As we continue to look at adequacy, equity, etc., I met Mr. Phillips yesterday who was the person who filed the Lake View case. I’m concerned about the– well, I want to know if there is inequality of teacher salaries that drives some of the numbers that we see between districts. Am I making any sense? Because I can’t help but think that those districts who have large numbers of minority students, poor students, may be getting teachers who have less certification than others. Is there a way for us to find that out and to see what the average salaries are in those districts as far as these percentiles you’re talking about? You lost me on a lot of the elasticity junk. I just, I mean, not junk, still. Just wasn’t my cup of tea. But I guess I’m just not tuned into that. But I need to know, as we look at, at the 1st through the 10th, what are the salary differences in those districts? Is that possible to find out?
Holt If you look in both our expenditure report and in the teacher salary report, I think we showed these to y’all ad nauseum, but those– we called them our lollipop charts.
Chesterfield I guess I just didn’t get the lollipop so I could be nauseated.
Holt But they show breakdowns by quintiles instead of deciles, but on a number of resources and expenditures. And I can, I can– I’ll be glad to pick out what we have and send those to you, and I think it will show you charts kind of like what Lori had, not so much the Gini coefficient and the McLoone. If you’re interested in those, we, I mean, we could try to calculate, but we’ve not done that.
Chesterfield I’d appreciate it if you would. Thank you. And thank you, Madam Chair.
Irvin If you want to send it to me, I’ll make sure to send it out to all the members of the committee as well. Thank you. Representative Godfrey.
Godfrey Thank you, Madam Chair. Maybe this isn’t the proper time. I just had a question about the school safety questions that we could maybe have BLR’s help with. As we’re looking at best practices for how to use those funds, I would love some research if y’all have any good studies on the impact of armed, an armed presence in schools on students of color and if there’s a disproportionate impact, safety impact, on students of color with having more guns in schools. Thank you.
Irvin Thank you. All right. Moving on to Agenda E, Item E. We have an interim study proposal.
Cozart That’s up to you. I mean that’s–
Irvin It’s up to you.
Cozart I’m just saying this is your deal.
Irvin All right. So we have some people joining us.
Cozart We may have to get some more chairs.
Irvin While y’all are sitting down, I’m going to recognize Senator Elliott to kind of just give us an overview of– have we already adopted this? So we’ve already adopted this, right?
Irvin Senator Elliott, you’re recognized to discuss the interim study proposal, Exhibit E.
Elliott Thank you, Madam Chair. I don’t need to say much. I just wanted to just bring to the attention that– first, I want to thank the women here who are going to present for getting their act together so well that you came today instead of having the whole committee come back again tomorrow where you were scheduled to be here. So I thank you for that and our time. But I just wanted to just say to the committee that this is something that’s been an ongoing process. And they came to me during last, well, last year to talk about having a coherent, thoughtful way of discussing what the issues are. And I– the ISP is the best way to do it. So what they’ll be doing today is just bringing to you their findings and perhaps recommendations. This just happened to fall during all the discussion of teacher salaries. Because we would have discussed it last month. And so I don’t want everybody to think there is some kind of conspiracy here. There’s not. We would have discussed it last month, but we did not meet. So thank you all for being here and thank you for honoring our time and getting here today.
Irvin Okay. So we’re discussing about speech pathology, is that correct? Okay. That’s– okay. Okay. Everybody has a copy of, of this. Okay. All right. If you’ll just state your names for the record, and then you’re recognized.
Rogers Perfect. Good afternoon. My name is Lauren Rogers. I am a lead speech language pathologist for Conway Public Schools. And much like Senator Elliott has already shared with you, we are here today on behalf of the Arkansas Speech Language Hearing Association, also known as ARKSHA, as well as roughly 560 school based SLPs around our state to just discuss with you some of our findings related to recruitment and retention issues that we have been observing over the past few years within our state. We do want to go ahead and just kind of introduce you to our committee. Along with myself, we have Kami Rolan, lead SLP for Little Rock Public Schools; Ellen Smith, SLP for Conway Schools; Wendy Roark, lead SLP for Springdale Schools; and Michelle Donnell, lead SLP for Springdale Public Schools. We also had Amy Faith and Elizabeth Williams. They were significant contributors to our findings, but they were unable to be with us today because their school calendars have started. So they are at work as we are meeting with you today. This committee over the past two years has been working very diligently to listen to conversations and engage in conversations related to national trends in the field of speech language pathology as they relate to school based issues. We’ve then observed those trends and tried to find ways on how they were impacting SLPs within our own state and therein the students that we serve. And so before we start, I know that many of you have experience working in the educational field. But just for one moment, just kind of think, when you hear school based SLP, what comes to mind? And a lot of times what we hear with that is, oh, you guys are the ones that help students produce their “r” sounds. And if that’s what you thought, that’s okay. We get that a lot and you’re not alone. Please trust us in that. But what we do want to take a little bit of time today is just to like broaden the idea of what we do and how we serve these students beyond teaching them the skills that they need to produce those speech sounds and translate that into writing. We’re also teaching them communication skills to be able to express themselves to their peers and their teachers. We’re giving them the skills to understand the text that’s provided to them within their educational classroom. And we are also just giving them some life skills on how to problem solve and think through situations critically. So we do ask, if you don’t mind, to please reserve your questions till the end of our session, and we’ll be sure to get to those as quickly as we can. And we have also, like Senator Elliott pointed out, provided you with a copy of the handouts and some other pertinent information for your reviewing. We’re going to begin our discussion today just kind of talking about what we do as speech language pathologists in the school setting.
Smith Okay. Like Lauren said, I’m Ellen Smith, and I’m a speech pathologist for Conway Public Schools. So today, I just kind of want to give a brief overview of what we do as a profession, but specifically what that, what that looks like as a public school pathologist, speech pathologist, and then touch on workload versus caseload. All of our– while all of the training required to be a speech pathologist looks the same at the beginning– we have master’s degrees required and then completing clinical competency– our service, it looks different within the public school setting. So this, this slide sort of outlines some of the primary direct service areas that we provide as a school based SLP. The speech production, that’s sort of what Lauren was talking about. That is that sound production and overall intelligibility. Language is working on basic concepts and comprehension and expressive language and understanding what people are being, are saying to these students. Speech fluency, you might have heard stuttering. That’s something that we work on. It’s that forward flow of speech that can really impact students in the classroom. And so that’s something we work on. Cognition is memory, attention, processing. Those are also skills that we work on as licensed speech pathologists. Voice and oral resonance. We collaborate with professionals when needed. We identify and treat, help to treat vocal trauma or vocal abuse. Social skills, that’s teaching kids what’s appropriate and helping them to recognize and use body language as a means to communicate, working on behavior and safety. This continues those sort of primary service areas. We collaborate with teachers to make sure that students can hear them in the classroom if they have hearing deficits. Augmented communication, that– you may have seen someone with a device to help facilitate communication when they don’t have their own voice or words to use. That requires a lot of teaching and education and training and programing, and that’s all part of that augmented or facilitated communication. And feeding and swallowing. Our role in feeding and swallowing within the school looks different, obviously, than a hospital setting. But we would collaborate with teachers and cafeteria staff to make sure students are being fed safely and that any sort of medical plan is being implemented appropriately. So speech pathologists in the school, they they work across all levels of education, from pre-K to graduation in all different settings, a regular classroom setting and classroom settings that require additional support. We serve a wide range of students with a wide range of disorders. And since we are duly licensed, speech therapists and we are holding a teaching license as well, we are well versed in curriculum standards and provide educationally relevant services for our students. Our goal is to connect to the skills that we are providing and facilitating and connect that, generalize that to the classroom. We contribute to literacy achievement for low language learners, low language students by addressing personal, social-emotional, vocabulary needs that are impacting them in the classroom. We’re often utilized by administration to assist students that are having breakdown behaviors in the classroom because of our training in language and social emotional facilitation. Our range of responsibilities include these listed on this slide. I’ll let you read those, but they vary in terms of time commitments and they are part of our workload. That is important, but it can impact the amount of direct treatment that can be provided to students. So this, this is sort of our highlight reel. This slide highlights the additional non-therapy related duties that, that come along with being duly licensed professionals within the school setting. These workload responsibilities include generating individualized education plans with the educational committee, non IEP– so that would be an IEP meeting. We also have non IEP meetings that we meet to discuss strategies that can help in the classroom. We have due process paperwork, all of that legal paperwork to make sure that it is thorough and complete and signed off on by the committee. That takes time. We are our own designees oftentimes in the school. So we are the ones scheduling those and completing all that documentation. We have professional development that has to be completed for our own speech therapy licensure. But also we’re required to get the hours that the, the teachers, the classroom teachers are also getting. So we have that, like I said, dual licensure. So we’re also getting dual continuing education hours. We are part of the response to intervention process. Oftentimes we’re in those meetings with teachers tracking progress of students and providing strategies to help facilitate those weaknesses in the classroom. We have building level duties oftentimes. And we help with problem solving in the classroom, helping, pushing into classrooms in that least restrictive environment to help facilitate their success there. We spend lots of time generating visual schedules, programing devices as assistive communication devices, completing classroom observations, curriculum planning with general education teachers. And with the passing of Act 1084, we are oftentimes the ones that are trained to help intervene when students are unsafe. So sometimes managing that workload and caseload can be challenging. And so these ladies down here are going to kind of elaborate on that.
Donnell Is that working? Hi, my name is Michelle Donnell. I am a lead speech language pathologist in the Springdale School District in Northwest Arkansas. And I’m going to talk a little bit about caseload versus workload. So when we say caseload, we’re talking about the direct number of students that we serve. So, for example, if I were a speech language pathologist at Young Elementary in Springville and there were 44 students there who had identified speech language impairment, that would be my direct caseload. We’re also going to talk about workload. And when we talk about workload, we’re talking about all the duties that a speech language pathologist in a school does within an average week. So on this next slide, over the past several years, speech language pathologists across our state have taken time study data to determine what we spend our time doing to look a little more at that workload piece and help us determine some solutions for that. We were very grateful in Springdale because our administration allowed us to pilot based on our time study a flexible service delivery model or a workload approach. And so that has been very helpful for us. But this is some of the data that has been collected and analyzed across the state. So the size of each circle represents approximately the time that we devote to that area. So the one in the middle, the direct therapy, we spend about 20 hours a week providing direct intervention to students with speech language impairment. Then we have to document that time and each session that we do with each child in our billing system. That takes on average three and a half hours a week. At that time– and then we go into preparing for meetings, parent meetings. And for that, we have to complete federally mandated paperwork and conduct meetings with families, teachers, administrators. And that takes on average up to 6 hours per week. We would like to note that for every student on our caseload, at a minimum, we have to hold one meeting a year to go over their progress. So for my example I gave earlier, we would have 44 meetings per year, but we have more than that often for several students on our caseload because every three years our students have to be reevaluated to determine if they still qualify as a student with speech language impairment. So for those students, we might have two or three meetings. And then some students we have more depending on behavior needs or other issues that may arise. We also– One of our district speech therapists this past school year kept some data which ended up being very interesting and applied to this slide. So she kept track of how many meetings she attended and how many minutes she was in meetings for the 2021-2022 school year. And she had last year 127 meetings and she sat in those meetings for 8,840 minutes of her school year. And so that’s a really big portion of our job being able to sit in the meetings but also to prepare the paperwork and get ready for those meetings. That was not all the required meetings that she had to attend that year. That was– or I’m sorry, that was just the required meetings she had to attend, those ones that we have to hold that are federally mandated. She also, on top of that, had response to intervention meetings, MTSS, multi-tiered systems of support meeting, behavior meetings, professional development. So that number did not count all of those meetings. Conducting evaluations and writing the report. So we are the ones responsible if there is a parent referral, a teacher referral, we are the ones who will test the child and determine if they are a child with a speech language impairment. And then we will write up the report to gather that information. And something that’s noteworthy about conducting our evaluations is that many of them we have to do in multiple languages. So, Wendy, who is going to speak next, she is my fellow lead speech pathologist at Springdale School District. Last year, she kept track, she had one student that she tested and he was tested in both English and Spanish. It took her six 45-minute periods to complete his evaluation. So other workload duties that you see up there, such as planning and preparation. We have to prepare for those lessons that we have with the students. School duties, so every school based speech language pathologist does a duty, recess, car duty, lunch duty. And then consulting. We do a lot of consulting with teachers and parents and administrators. We’ll take on average combined up to 5 hours per week. I’m going to let Wendy Roark, Ms. Roark talk a little bit more about caseload and workload.
Roark Good afternoon. Like Michelle said, my name is Wendy Roark. I’m a lead speech pathologist at Springdale Schools. And so on this slide, you’ll see two graphs. The one at the top– and this is a further analysis of the time study that we conducted in the state. The slide at the top shows the amount of time in our work week with that red line and then the blue beyond that is the actual amount of time that we spend doing all of our workload duties. So, you know, that’s working at home 5 to 6 hours a week. And for me, having two young kids, that’s putting the kids to bed at night and then turn your computer right back on to finish, usually the paperwork. And then the graph at the bottom indicates how our time is spent. The dark blue is our actual direct working with students. And then the remaining part of that circle are all those other workload responsibilities that we’ve talked about. But it should be noted that the hiring is only based on the number of kids that we can see. And that, we know that we have a lot of other responsibilities, and that’s leading to SLPs leaving the field. And then some of these things we’ve talked about already. But on top of all that, you know, additional, on top of our regular work week, we often have these additional duties that are added. Because we are duly licensed, we are asked to help with the state and local tests like the measures of academic progress, the ACT Aspire and the English Language Proficiency Assessment. We’re also asked to help with students with behavior issues. Because we do have specialized training in that, we’re often called upon to help those students. Many of the students are on our case loads already. Some are not, and we’re just asked to help intervene. And I recently read a study from the Journal of Child Psychiatry that indicated 60 to 90% of adolescents in custody have language and communication impairment. And then another study indicated that adults with language disorders who got intervention in school were reported to have less contact with law enforcement if they had the intervention in school. So I think–.
Irvin Can I ask you– I’m so sorry. Can I ask you a quick question? You say you’re duly licensed?
Roark Yes, we have an education license and we have our state license.
Irvin Okay. And you’re getting– what are the licensing boards that you deal with?
Roark ABESPA is our state licensing board.
Irvin For speech pathology?
Roark Yes. And then the Department of Education issues our teacher license. And then we also hold a certificate of clinical competence with our national association, ASHA, the American Speech Language Hearing Association.
Irvin Right. And you’re all employed by your school districts?
Roark Yes, correct.
Irvin Okay. Thank you. I would just– I don’t want to lose members. And I know you have a lot of information here, which I very much appreciate. I’m just letting you know I don’t want to lose members. So I want you to get to all your points as much as you can.
Roark So and that, that touched on my next point. Because we do have that licensure, we do have to get the professional development to maintain all of those licenses. And now Ms. Rogers is going to talk about our impact on students.
Rogers Okay. So so far in this presentation, you’ve heard some information about how our medical training is being utilized within the educational setting. You’ve also seen how, because of the diversity of what our case loads present to us, it has increased the workload that we’re having to complete on a weekly basis. And so all of that, you might be wondering, well then why do you do it? And so some of our other partners in settings that are not in the educational setting wonder the same thing. And to that question our answer is pretty simple. The students. You know, much like you all, we engage in these conversations and brainstorm ideas to try to help these kiddos be successful and reach their maximum potential. And so that’s what we want to reinforce today is that our why and this discussion is also your why. So I’ll let you kind of read through this quote on your own. But basically what it’s highlighting is just the fact that the decisions that are made at the state and building level impact the SLP’s decision to make ethical evidence based decisions. And that sets up what our caseloads and workloads look like within each of our buildings. So what does that look like? In Arkansas over the past two years, our speech language pathologists have noted that they have seen an increase not only in caseload size, but again, in our workload demands. As we’ve looked at that, you know, Section 17 of the Arkansas Rules and Regs currently states that a speech language pathologist in Arkansas is not to have a caseload to exceed 45. And while we are grateful to be one of the states that has had that caseload cap, we also know that because of the transient nature of our students and because of some low staffing issues that we see across the state, that oftentimes our SLPs are basically asked, if not forced, to hold more files than that. And how that impacts our students is that we are then put in a situation where we have to maybe put them in larger group sizes to be able to meet the minutes that are prescribed to them in their IEPs. So obviously with the larger group size, we then are cutting down a little bit of the time that they are receiving that direct intervention on those skills that are so vital for them to be able to acquire the very skills that they’re trying to learn within their educational classroom. Whenever we have these increased group sizes, it also decreases the amount of Medicaid funding that we’re able to bill for, which goes directly back into reimbursement for the districts. And then that money then gets used for the betterment of the children as a whole. We wish we saw a portion of that, but we don’t. I always highlight that to our parents. We’ve also noticed, you know, that as medical and technological advances continue to improve, that some of our more medically complex students are joining us in the public, in the public school fields. And we value their presence. Like, let me say that loud and clear. We value their presence because we know that it’s not only creating a more inclusive learning opportunity for them, but it’s also creating a more inclusive learning opportunity for the students and the educators that they are working with. Research also shows that individuals who are involved in the day to day caring for these students who are a little bit more medically fragile that their empathy rates increase. And so that’s something also that has a direct reflection on the safety of our students. Increasing empathy is always a positive thing. But what that means is that we do need more time. You know, a lot of times these students have a little bit more significant needs, and we have to be a little bit more creative and have a little bit more multidisciplinary interactions with those that are involved in their cases so that way we can address their goals in a very functional and relevant manner that goes across different settings. We also have seen, you know, increases with documentation. And, you know, paperwork is a part of every job. But it seems like it is becoming to get a little bit more detailed as, as our profession increases just to make sure that everything is documented clearly. We also know that as, you know, Act 1084 has hit the floor, a lot of educators around the state this summer have participated in professional development. Because of our expertise in neurological development, we are considered usually critical members of these teams within our schools. We have to have these levels of neurological learning in order to graduate and then be nationally certified. But then because of that required professional development, we even either are forced to find ourselves there or we elect to find ourselves there, where we’re learning how to view that neurological development through a very trauma informed lens. And so that makes us continue to be these advocates and these people that are involved in these committees. And while we’re happy to do that, because a lot of times we are the people who kind of understand the communicative intent behind these adverse behaviors that we’re seeing in the classroom, it just creates more time that’s not typically written in on our schedules. And then obviously, like we said, because we are duly certified and we hold that teaching license, in many and most cases we are also expected to complete teacher duties, like bus room duty, lunch duty, recess duty and etc. And while we are always happy to help, it does just take time away from the direct intervention that we have been prescribed to complete.
Irvin But again, I’m sorry. The, the intervention that you’re describing, that is from your school, correct?
Rogers That’s from the individualized education plans that are established for each student.
Irvin No, I understand IEPs. I’m talking about, like, recess duty.
Irvin That’s from your school making that decision?
Rogers Correct. Each building.
Irvin Each building, each school is different.
Irvin And then other things that you’re describing, again, is based on what that school is paying you and what that school is asking of you.
Rogers Correct. Yes, ma’am. So this slide here is just pointing out the fact, again, that there– for decades we’ve been trying to figure out which method is best for how to address the needs of these students within our buildings. And unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we don’t have a solid plan to present. But what we can highlight is just that speech language pathologists are vital members to each and every school community and each school culture. And so we want to just highlight a little bit of what speech language pathologists bring into our districts each year.
Roland Hi, I’m Kami Roland, and I will be starting my 25th year in the Little Rock School District at the Little Rock Southwest High School. Right now I want to speak about SLPs in the schools and our significant contributions to Medicaid in the school dollars. So we will look at this table. All right. So what you see is a five year longitudinal study. We looked at the state total revenue from SLP services. And that is direct services. So that is our individual and group therapy with the students. This is our evaluation of the students. And as you can see, each year is delegated and then in parentheses you see the number of districts that were represented for each year. 2017, we provided $12,378,218.24. And I’ll just move on to 2021. We are up to $12,988,188.16. And if you look at the second row, what you see is the state total revenue from direct funds for Medicaid in the schools. 2017 was $30 million. 2018, 28. 2019, 30. 2020, 27. And then 2021, 28 million. The third column is very exciting for us and hopefully you will see it as well that we speech pathologists and our work in the schools yields a lot, almost half to the Medicaid in the school dollars. From 2017, we provided 40% of the total direct funds. And then just last year, 2021, we provided 46% of the total direct funds for Medicaid in the schools. The fourth row I want to discuss, especially because as you all can see, we saw also the discrepancy between 2017 to 2019 and then in 2020. So as you see in 2017 and 2019, it’s about 15 to 14 million. And then in 2020, it jumped almost double or did double to 30 million. And so this is in reference to ARMAC. And so as Ellen alluded, on page five of your handout, slide number nine, all of the extra things that we do, the work load. And so those do not count for Medicaid dollars. And what that does count for, however, is ARMAC. And what ARMAC stands for is the Arkansas Medicaid Administrative Claiming. So that is our meetings with teachers. That is our meetings with parents. That is doing our paperwork. That is going in and doing observations to see if a child needs to go through RTI or go ahead and be referred for special ed services. That is meeting with PLC meetings. That is all the extras that Medicaid does not yield for because it’s not direct services, but rather indirect. And I spoke to Ms. Geri Clark, the health services director. She stated that over 20,000 employees in the state that work in the schools work through the ARMAC program. And ARMAC is a fee services reimbursement for all the extras that are done that are not directly related to Medicaid. I asked her about the discrepancy between 17 to 19 and starting in 2020. And she said that what her office did is that they had decided to address risk and it improves charges significantly. And so in 2020 they revamped the ARMAC program. And the way that they did that is before 2020 they had the 20,000 that were participating in these ARMAC moments. And what that is, it’s a random moment. We get an email and it states on this specific day at this specific time, what were you doing? And so you have to write a narrative of what you were doing. And what they found was before 2020, those random moments were actually happening at night and on the weekend that we would get. Well, of course, at night and on the weekend, unless, you know, like Wendy said, we’re working on paperwork. We can say we’re watching a movie with our children or we’re vacationing or, you know, we’re asleep. And so they realized that they needed to get more secure in the random moments. And so what they did was they set it now where it’s 7:30 in the morning until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday only. So that way that helped be able to have the moments that were more directly related to what we were doing in the schools if it weren’t for Medicaid. The other thing that she looked at that she said was a massive discrepancy was the training. And so what she saw before 2020 when they revamped this is that from day one of the school year to the last day of the school year, any of us could be trained in how to provide that random moment narrative. And so she said by doing that, there really was discrepancies across the board of what people would write in and they weren’t trained on, this is what we accept, this is what we don’t accept, this is what it needs to look like. And so therefore by doing that training and requirements now starting in 2020 to have that training either when we come back to the schools, which some have already started– I’ll start on Wednesday– until the students start back, then we have a more better understanding of what the state needs to see on a ARMAC random moment. And so if you will look at that, like I said, 2017 to 2019, ARMAC only yielded a $15 million back to the state for the total reimbursement for fiscal year, but because they revamped the program, did the better training, and secured the random acts of moments with us, with our students from the school day rather than the the night and the weekend, they were able to move up, double to $30 million. And so in closing, I just want to say that Ms. Geri Clark said that even before 2020 and even more so now, speech language pathologists who work in our public schools are the key school staff to get the moments billable and give that money back to the state. So we hope that you’ll see our expertise and what it provides to the state. And just to reiterate, just last year alone, we provided 46% of the total revenue of direct funds for Medicaid in the schools. And so now what I’m going to go over is average salaries just around our state. So $58,000 is the average salary of a school based SLP in the western south region. $66,000 is the average salary for school based SLPs nationwide. And then the average salary of clinical SLPs, not school based but rather in medical settings, is $78,000. We looked at the average for our state, and it’s not the same across the board because each district has different guidelines of how they do that. And so our average of SLP salary is between $36,000 and $53,000. That’s what we get. Missouri is $59,000 average and Texas is $63,000 average. And so now I’m going to let Lauren speak about our 2022 survey data. Thank you for listening.
Rogers So as Kami just shared with you, speech language pathologists in Arkansas are a vital component to the Medicaid in the school system. What’s interestingly, though, is that of that $12 million that’s being brought in, only 560, roughly 560 SLPs are contributing to that amount of revenue. Of that 560, there’s only roughly 350 of those who are direct hires through the state. And so if my math is correct and again, this is not my forte, that leaves around 200. And so those 200 SLPs are likely working through a contracted agreement. That contracted agreement could be due to just the district’s preference or it could be due to the fact that that district is struggling to retain and recruit those highly qualified individuals. ASHA, like we mentioned, which is our national governing board, recently released this graph. And I think it’s pretty astounding to just note that Arkansas, little ole Arkansas in the purple here, has one of the highest per capita ratios of SLPs in the nation. That’s not completely shocking, as we do have five highly reputable graduate programs that are producing clinicians each year. But what is concerning and what we are not able to explain is why a state with that high ratio of SLPs is struggling to fill those vacancies across our LEAs around the state. So ARKSHA, in order to kind of delve into this lack of comprehension on why we’re seeing that, distributed some surveys to school based SLPs, non school based SLPs, graduate students, and LEAs, and this data right here represents the school based SLP survey results. We were able to obtain responses from 136 of our members within our state. And you can see from the pie chart that the range of experiences was pretty vast. We had from one year all the way past 30 years of experience. Of those 136 responses, 83% have reported that they are currently working in public school setting, with those remaining members being employed through a private school setting. What’s shocking, though, in that little yellow circle you’ll see, is that 78.7% of the speech therapists currently employed in a public school setting have seriously considered leaving the field. When asked why, they contributed their reasons to paperwork demands, pay schedules, high case loads, teacher duty responsibilities and the general view of SLPs within the educational setting. When asked, How do we fix it, what do we do to improve it, they obviously mentioned improving those areas as one of those things that would help them stay. But they also mentioned that the funding of, or the funding of the previously approved stipend, which we can talk about in just a little while later, would help them to feel as though they truly were a medical professional working in the, the setting. When we look at the data from our non-school based SLPs, you can see from the– we had around 99 responses and 54% of those who responded indicated that they had previously worked in the school setting. Of that 54%, only 27% said that they would even be willing to consider coming back to a public school setting. Interestingly, the reasons as to why they were hesitant to return to that setting was due to the same reasons that our current SLPs are considering leaving. But they did indicate that some of the benefits to their new position included things such as a flexible schedule being as their number one and then other perks related to relationships with coworkers, 401Ks, and things such as bonuses. Last but certainly not least, is our graduate student data. This is the data that we feel like is most concerning. We had, we had roughly 30 responses from our graduate student programs. Take into mind it was the summer time, so they were not checking their emails quite as frequently. But of those who responded, only 35% of the graduate students surveyed indicated that they would even be willing to apply for a school based position if one were open in their area. Of that already low 35%, only 30% indicated that they would then accept that position if offered.
Elliott May I, may I please interrupt? Because I am reading the room and I want these folks to work with everybody on this when we come back in 2023, because you guys have, you’ve done a very, very good job of giving us the information we need in the format that we need it. And for all of the recommendations at the end, I don’t want to lose this group. I want them to be sure they heard what you said. But I also want to suggest that the presentation ends at this point so that we do have everything we need. And I’ll remind the committee, we do have everything that we need in writing on the graphs and so forth. And, because we’ve exceeded our time, and I want to just express my appreciation for your bringing this to us. Because we really need a speech pathologist to really help us do the work that we need to do to serve our students. And if anybody wants to have a, just a quick wrap up, not back to the presentation, do that. And I suggest we bring it to a close because I have to make the case with these folks that they need to help you in 2023. So if we could just briefly wrap it up, that would be great. And I’m sorry to interrupt, but.
Rogers No, that’s fine. We were almost finished anyway. So as you– like Senator Elliott was saying, there are a few asks that you guys can review. Like we mentioned previously, one was just a stipend and then just some, some consideration of workload models and flexible scheduling that have been beneficial in our surrounding states. So we have provided links to those, if you need those, just for some models. But then other than that, we mostly just wanted to thank you for your time and consideration and allowing us to meet with you all today. And so if there are any questions, we’d be happy to take those.
Elliott And for the public, these will be posted online, is that correct?
Elliott If anybody wants to see it. They, the public probably should take a look at this as well. Thank you all so much. Appreciate you.
Irvin Thank you. And just to clarify a couple of things. One, Act 1084 that you keep referring to, that was Representative Gazaway’s bill passed in 2021. Is that correct?
Irvin Okay. Okay. I probably would have more questions for you later at that point. But and then the Medicaid money that’s produced, right, because of your services, those are retained at the school, correct? Those are not funneled back to the state.
Rogers No, they stay in the districts.
Irvin They stay in the school districts. Right. So, I mean, that’s, that’s something that, you know, I understand the different aspects of this. However, part of that funding that they’re receiving does help pay for your position at that school. Is that a fair statement?
Rogers That is true, yes, ma’am.
Irvin I do have just a couple of quick questions, and I’m going to let them go ahead. Representative Fite.
Fite Thank you, Madam Chair. This is really a question for the committee rather than for you. Thank you so much for your presentation and for the work that you do in our schools. Truly appreciate you. I’m just wondering if we couldn’t expand this to also include school psychology specialists, education examiners, because they are pretty much in the same situation. They’re getting harder and harder to find and they are leaving the school setting, going to other agencies and institutions. And I think a lot of this would apply as well. I would add occupational therapists and physical therapists except that most of them contract with the school district, have their own separate contracts outside of teacher salary contracts. So I would just specifically say school psychology specialists and examiners that we add to this and look at that all at the same time because I think if we just separate out and say SLPs, we’re going to be hit with, what about us? Thank you.
Irvin I’ve got two, and then I’m going to cut it off because of time. Representative Murdock? Meeks. Sorry
Meeks Thank you, Madam Chair. Just a real quick question. You’d mentioned that a lot of your time, and again, we appreciate the work you do obviously. You’d mentioned a lot of your time is taking up and doing reports and administrative, and we all understand that and understand that’s an issue. The question that I have is how much of that is federal requirement? How much of that is state requirements. And how much of that is school district required?
Rogers Unfortunately, they all kind of tie together. So under IDEA law, there’s requirements that have to be reported, that have to be included in our reports. And then there’s requirements through Medicaid that have to be in our reports. And so in the school district, you know, just in terms of equity, we try to write our reports the same for every student. So that way, in the case that a student could be billed for Medicaid, then we are able to retrieve those funds to help the students as a whole. So we at least in our district and I think across the board, we try to make sure that everything– we’re not trying to add anything extra based on just district preference, but we are trying to marry those two things together to where we are maximizing our time and efforts in one evaluation report so that we’re not having to go back and write addendums if needed.
Meeks Okay, so it sounds like the state’s not putting a whole lot of extra. Most of it is federal requirements. So there’s not really a whole lot that we can do to try to lighten that load other than lobby Congress. All right. Thank you.
Irvin Okay. And I have a question that somebody had texted me. Are y’all here speaking, are you here in your private capacity or are you speaking for your districts?
Rogers We are speaking on behalf of ARKSHA, which is our state advocacy education, the Arkansas Speech Language Hearing Association. We’re an ad hoc committee for that organization.
Irvin Gotcha. Thank you. Okay. And I have– I already got her. I do have one last. I called on Representative Murdock, but he’s not here. But I’m going to let Senator Sullivan ask a quick question.
Sullivan Thank you. So if you work for a private company, they would pay you based on your billing, the number of hours you billed. Some of that is non billable hours that your school has you do. They’re putting that additional expense on you. So when a company, independent company, they pay you by your billing and they end up with a margin of profit. Do you know what the school’s margin is?
Rogers I’m not sure exactly. I know that the rate of discrepancies, like the discrepancy between the rates, I think on average right now, like, if we were– if a school district were to contract, it’s running around $95 to $98 per hour for up to 6 hours for a contracted personnel to be in that position. And so if you break that down equivalently, it rates to about $32.50 per hour for–
Sullivan Yeah, I guess what I’m asking in your, in your study, you’re asking for a stipend. So if the district is making enough money to pay for that stipend, it seems like your advocacy would be to your district to give you more of the margin, which would equal your stipend instead of coming to the legislature.
Rogers That comes from the state level. So the Act 1187 that was funded– or that was approved in 2005 is kind of where they, they are all in agreement with you all that they say, yes, we understand what you do, but those discussions have likely occurred across many districts across the state.
Sullivan Thank you. I guess, Madam Chair, I need to understand that more, I guess. Thank you.
Irvin Thank you.
Donnell I know that partially that stipend getting funded was based on us– can you hear me now? Sorry. Am I on? The stipend that was passed was so that, because we have our national fees, so that is equivalent to the national board, the teacher certification stipend that they get for $5,000. So that is because what we have is equivalent to what those teachers have. So that was passed in 2005 to fund speech language pathologists with that because that was equivalent to the teacher. So that’s just part of what we’re asking that would help recruit and keep honestly– like we’ve seen lots of really good SLPs leave, and that’s really hard for our kids. To keep those good therapists and to recruit them, that $5,000 would be huge.
Roland And I just want to say, before we began the ISP, I was the ad hoc chair for the stipend committee. And my committee and I met numerous times with members of Mr. Hutchinson, Governor Hutchinson’s educational group, as well as Commissioner Key. And so–
Irvin I didn’t meet with you, but that’s okay. I mean, I don’t. Anyway, go ahead.
Roland And so therefore, those meetings were held and discussed and, unfortunately, the money had to be allocated to other venues.
Irvin I’m sorry. Okay. Okay. But your Medicaid is billed at the same rate. So one of the questions we had was, is Medicaid different in Conway versus somewhere else? And the only– should– the only different discrepancy with Medicaid reimbursement would be if you’re a federally qualified health center, they actually get an enhanced Medicaid rate, more so than anybody else in the field. So FQHC’s are the ones that get an enhanced Medicaid rate. But as far as your Medicaid billing, whether you’re in Conway or Springdale or Rogers or Mountain View or Salem or Viola, it’s going to be the same Medicaid reimbursement. It doesn’t matter where you are in the state of Arkansas. And that was a question somebody had. But that’s correct. Yeah. And then. Okay. All right. Thanks. I see no other questions. Thank you all so much for coming. All right. Members, if you’ll just stay tuned, we may be calling some additional meetings in September, so we’ll be in touch with you. Thank you. We’re adjourned.