Urge your legislators to take action to fix a funding flaw hurting our schools

Urge your legislators to take action to fix a funding flaw hurting our schools

Please write to your state senator and representative and ask them to address a severe funding crisis facing our public schools. The issue relates to how Chapter 70 school funding – state aid to our public schools – is calculated.
The Issue
Chapter 70 aid amounts in the FY25 House 2 budget do not account for the actual costs of recent inflation because of a flaw in the way inflation adjustments are calculated in Chapter 70. Fixing that flaw would increase Chapter 70 by about $217 million. Inflation has, of course, been very high in recent years.
Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff: Fixing the Inflation CalculationThe

For a more detailed explanation of the flaw in the formula, as well as a fix, read this fact sheet, authored by the MTA, the Mass. Association of School Superintendents, the Mass. Association of School Committees and AFT Mass.

Learn More

The inflation rate for the time period that determined the FY24 Chapter 70 inflation adjustment was 8.01 percent and for FY23 it was 7.08 percent. But the law caps the annual inflation adjustment of the foundation budget at 4.5 percent. As a result, districts did not receive funds to cover a significant portion of inflation that they had to pay for in expenses.

The way the Chapter 70 formula originally worked, that would not be a long-term problem because the lost inflation would automatically be added back into the foundation budget in the following year. But a technical change made almost a decade after the law was passed inadvertently changed that. Now when the cap reduces aid below the level needed to keep pace with inflation, that reduction is locked in forever and reduces future aid.

The Solution
A simple fix that maintains the 4.5 percent cap but makes sure that the formula makes up for lost inflation would solve the problem. That would increase Chapter 70 aid by $217 million, with additional under-inflation “catch-ups” in future years. It is important to make a permanent change in the law so that all the aid lost is eventually made up. That is necessary to allow the Commonwealth to meet the real-dollar targets in the Student Opportunity Act.

To implement the change, the Legislature could use an updated version of the language in the original Education Reform Act.

How You Can Help
Please write to your state senator and representative and ask them to address this flaw in the way Chapter 70 school funding is calculated. Provide details about your own school district – the amount of proposed cuts, what that will mean for programs and positions, etc.

Here is a draft letter for your use. Contact information for you state senator and representative is here.

Thank you in advance for taking action.

Letter to Legislators

Dear Representative/Senator,

Our local schools are facing a severe funding crisis. Two years of very high inflation, coupled with state policies that limit available revenue, have caused a serious budget crisis that threatens serious and lasting harm to our schools and students.

[PLEASE FILL IN INFORMATION ABOUT THE THREATENED CUTS TO YOUR SCHOOLS, SUCH AS “In my school district of, we are facing upwards of $million in cuts, which may result in the loss of, educators serving our students, and the closure of programs.”]

A primary cause of this crisis, particularly in lower income districts, has been the cap on inflation adjustments in Chapter 70. When inflation was 7 percent in FY23 and 8 percent in FY24, the inflation adjustment in the Chapter 70 formula was only 4.5 percent. This led to dramatic underfunding of our schools. That harm has been done, but you can take steps to make sure the same harm does not continue into next year and forever into the future. For a more detailed explanation, read this fact sheet compiled by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and AFT Massachusetts. It explains a flaw in the formula that allows the underfunding to continue indefinitely, as well as straightforward way to fix the flaw and restore essential funding for our schools. Please ask the Ways and Means Committee to include this fix in the FY25 budget.

Even with that fix some school districts will not receive significant increases in Chapter 70 aid, yet they, too, are suffering from the unusual increases in costs due to high inflation. To protect those districts, we ask that you support two important strategies. The first strategy is to provide $100 per pupil Chapter 70 minimum aid. The second is to fund a Whole Child Grant proposed by the MTA that would target middle-income districts and help address the serious student mental health issues we are seeing by helping school districts hire additional school nurses, librarians, school counselors, school adjustment counselors, social workers and school psychologists.

Thank you for your consideration. Please reach out with questions.

I hope you are willing to advocate as strongly as possible with your colleagues to take these steps to address the funding crisis threatening our schools and our ability to meet the needs of our students.



Draft Letter. Find Your Legislators Explainer