Bill would increase funding by more than $1 billion a year
The Massachusetts Teachers Association applauded the state Senate’s approval today of a bill that would increase state funding for public schools by more than $1 billion a year when fully implemented. Approved by a vote of 38-0, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, S. 2506, now goes to the House of Representatives.
An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century
S. 2506 addresses four major shortcomings of the current system. It requires:
- Realistically accounting for districts’ health care costs by using actual averages from the Group Insurance Commission to set insurance costs and inflation rates in the Foundation Budget.
- Modernizing the English language learner and low-income components to provide critical services as identified by national research on best practices, examples provided by other states, and practices highlighted by leading districts in Massachusetts.
- Accurately projecting special education costs by increasing the assumed in-district special education enrollment rate to 16 percent and increasing the out-of-district cost rate to reflect the total costs that districts bear before the SPED “circuit breaker” is triggered.
- Establishing a Data Advisory Task Force to improve the use of school-level data to better inform future policy decisions.
“This is a historic day for Massachusetts,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “The Senate vote sends a clear signal that lawmakers recognize state funding for our public schools is falling short and students are paying the price. We urge the House to follow the Senate’s lead so that all of our students have an opportunity to learn, regardless of where they live or the challenges they face.”
Sponsored by the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Education, Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston), S. 2506 requires the state to establish a multiyear schedule for implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. That nonpartisan commission determined in 2015 that the formula used to create each district’s “foundation budget” — that is, the minimum amount of spending necessary to provide an adequate education to all of its students — significantly understates those costs.
S. 2506 addresses core FBRC recommendations, though not all of the FBRC’s suggestions. If the bill were fully implemented all at once, it would require the state to increase Chapter 70 aid to school districts by more than $1 billion a year.
Because of how the complicated formula works, most but not all districts would be eligible for the increased funds.
The MTA was a driving force behind re-establishing the FBRC to examine the formula. That formula was created after passage of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act and has not had a major overhaul since then.
Senator Michael Rush (D-Boston) sponsored an MTA-backed bill that would have updated the formula and made several other significant policy changes. After that bill failed to advance in the Senate earlier this year, the Chang-Díaz foundation budget bill picked up steam. The MTA, AFT Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance have all strongly backed the Chang-Díaz bill.
"This is a historic day for Massachusetts."
MTA President Barbara Madeloni
“We are hearing from a growing number of school districts that the lack of funding is taking a toll on our students,” Madeloni said. “It’s time to update the funding formula to guarantee students in our low-income urban and rural districts the same opportunities as students have in our affluent suburbs.”