Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MassBudget presentation on the foundation formula

MassBudget and Policy presenting on the foundation budget
You can find the report they're discussing here.
Lots of aides here today, as the House is in caucus.The room is packed, 'though: people standing against the walls.
Noah Berger and Luc Schuster are here to present today. Representative Lewis is introducing.
This study was paid for by Mass Association of School Business Officials. (That's the finance people.)
posting as I go...will clean up my spelling and such later!

Compares what the foundation budget says should be spent in various spending areas, to what is actually spent.
"Not a full adequacy study in any sense"
Will start with a primer on foundation formula, and then findings
And you've seen this presentation...but allow me to point out that the examples they're using for this are Worcester and Newton.
Baseline per pupil for Worcester is $10,826. Newton is $9028.
Worcester can afford $3225. Newton $8034.
Worcester thus receives $7600 in state aid; Newton $1207
Worcester spends $43 per pupil OVER required minimum; Newton spends $5195 per pupil over required minimum.
And we are here reminded that Worcester has higher needs than Newton does.
(Admittedly, emphasis added, but let's also point out here that Worcester comes out looking not so hot here.)

Additional resources are allocated for low income students, special education students, and English Language students.
Supplemental learning opportunities for kids who are middle class; kids of lower income do not have those opportunities.
Thus, three additional teachers PER a hundred kids in your community for low income kids to allow for that. Plus, additional funds for low income kids for supplemental learning opportunities.

Those numbers are in the formula today.

Specific wage adjustment factor; baseline for salaries, plus inflation factor.

Review of levels of funding: vocational student, high school, elementary, low income....

Foundation budget (all numbers FY10): $9.1 billion
General fund spending (including SFSF): $10.6 billion
all funds spending (including grants): $12.9 billion

Breakdown by wealth: districts with greater wealth spend above foundation
very consistent: greater the wealth, greater the spending over foundation (if you have more money, you spend it on education)

actual spending WAY OVER foundation in health insurance, special education teachers, and out of district special education

Breaking down special education teacher funding:
Teaching costs in general are right on with foundation budget BUT special education teachers specifically are way over the foundation budget allocation.

Health insurance: gap of $1.1 billion between foundation budget and actual funding

special ed in district teachers: gap of $665 million
out of district special ed spending: gap of $356 million EVEN AFTER circuit breaker spending

all together? About $2.1 billion gap for FY2010

Health care inflation has grown at 2 to 3 times the rate of inflation factor in Ch. 70 law (outside control of local school districts). Recent health reform law may help somewhat.

special ed numbers were set INTENTIONALLY LOW: thus no incentive to find new special ed kids
dramatic growth in HIGH NEED special ed since early 1990's (we have more kids surviving to elementary school who didn't use to live that long, for example)

Inflation adjustments were not fully implemented:
  • cost growth were not inflated for the first year
  • FY10 skipped a high inflation quarter; reduced the foundation budget $327 million statewide
  • implementation has not always captured revisions to prior years adjustment
Highest wealth districts are still able to spend at foundation on regular ed teachers, while lower income districts cannot. Savings are being found, among elsewhere, in regular ed teachers. Lowest income districts are spending 32% less in regular ed teachers than the foundation budget allows for.
Are those districts paying teachers less, or are they hiring fewer teachers?
Hiring fewer teachers (as salary is about where foundation budget assumes).
Only in highest wealth districts is spending meeting the level called for in the foundation budget

All districts across the board are spending below foundation on materials and technology (50% less even in the highest wealth districts).
Gap in professional development follows wealth: under foundation in lower wealth districts, higher wealth districts spend more than foundation.

Value of foundation budget has lagged behind true cost growth.

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