Foundation budget hearings begin on Monday, Nov. 17

The Foundation Budget Review Commission will begin a series of public hearings on Nov. 17, providing educators with an opportunity to explain to legislators and state education officials what students need to succeed and to advocate for adequate funding for those goals.

“This is an opportunity to create schools that every child and their families deserve,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “Students should not be punished because of economic disparities between communities.”

The first of six hearings set to take place around the state will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., on Monday, Nov. 17 at the Holten-Richmond Middle School, 55 Conant St., Danvers.

Madeloni is a member of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which was established by the Legislature during deliberations for the FY 2015 state budget. Rep. Alice Peisch and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz are the chairs of the 21-member review commission. They are also chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.

Each school district has a “foundation budget,” which is the amount of money needed to ensure delivery of essential educational services. The review commission is evaluating the way districts determine their foundation budgets as well as appropriate education goals for students.

The long-overdue review will shape state aid to cities and towns for education — known as Chapter 70 funds.

The foundation budget formula was last assessed in 2001, and the MTA made reestablishing a review commission one of its legislative priorities.

“Educators continually examine the needs of their students. The state has a clear obligation to ensure that funding keeps pace, and that educators are sufficiently supported in meeting students’ needs,” Madeloni said. “Our members’ voices are important ones the commission needs to hear. Schools must be places where joy and creativity flourish, and MTA members can best articulate what it takes to achieve that goal.”

Educators have taken on countless new initiatives since the last time the foundation budget was reviewed, so the MTA is urging members to share their firsthand knowledge with the commission as it assesses the following areas: the state’s educational goals; the elements used in calculating the foundation budget; and the effective use of resources.

Topics educators should consider addressing with the review commission include: class size; special education and ELL programs; access to preschool and full-day kindergarten; additional needs of low-income students; educational programs for students who need support beyond the regular school day; salaries necessary to attract and retain high-quality teachers and staff; professional development; extracurricular programs; remedial programs for students at risk of not meeting graduation requirements; curriculum materials; and technology.

The FBRC is also scheduled to hold hearings at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 for the South Coast region; 11 a.m. Jan 10 in Western Mass; 11 a.m. on Jan. 24 in Central Mass; 11 a.m. Feb. 14 on Cape Cod; and 4:30 p.m. on March 9 in Boston.

The commission is also accepting written testimony, which can be sent to Jennie.Williamson@mahouse.gov.

For additional information about the foundation budget, click here.