Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just to clear a few things up...

A few things that we can answer tonight that seemed to be left a wee bit unclear...
  • If you've been left confused tonight on who owes who what, the Mass Budget and Policy Center has a very straightforward explanation of how the funding formula for education works. It doesn't have to be complicated, honest!
  • If you're wondering why transportation (or adult ed, or what have you) doesn't count, it's right here in Mass General Laws, Chapter 70, Section 6: In addition to amounts appropriated for long-term debt service, school lunches, adult education, student transportation, and tuition revenue, each municipality in the commonwealth shall annually appropriate for the support of public schools in the municipality...is how that section starts. Those are things the state thinks the municipality should be covering themselves, entirely. That's the way it works.
  • Much of the increase in transportation last year (as clearly spelled out in the WPS budget; sometimes we don't have to ask because admin tells us up front!) was an increase in required transportation for special education students.
  • There has to be some agreement between city and schools on how much of what the city does the city gets to count towards school spending. In Worcester, that written agreement specifies that, as the schools are 54% of the full city budget, 54% of particular departments are counted (as a sort of "in-kind" contribution) towards city spending on schools. The other way of dividing this is to have a per pupil cost. Please note that this is not an estimate, nor is it based on how much work any particular department does towards school operations.
  • The state has given a preliminary finding that Other Post-Employment Benefits do not count towards Net School Spending.
  • The Worcester Public Schools are receiving $33,907,109 in grants. That means the Worcester Public Schools budget for FY12 is $330 million. Not $400 million.
  • We have not yet gotten all of the numbers statewide for FY13; when we do, I will update this chart, which compares Worcester to a number of other Gateway Cities. It's not pretty. And, to quote, what is this? A Race to the Bottom?

  • And just so we are keeping all of this in perspective, here's where the money comes from for the FY13 budget; required city contribution is the green section:

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