Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Legislative update from MASC

MASC Division IV (central MA) at Wachusett Regional High School
Panel for Senator Brewer, Reps Gobi, Gregoire, and Ferguson

Senator Brewer speaking: will send Senate Ways and Means budget to printer tomorrow at 2
public next Wednesday; amendments taken until Friday
Sees Circuit breaker, charter school reimbursement, regional bus transportation, vocational accts, McKiney-Vento as five big issues
Brewer having a press conference tomorrow with others on opiate addiction
Early education: get those kids earlier
House education budget highlights: (Rep. Gobi)
Foundation budget review commission: "Senate has done that in the past"
raised McKinney-Vento and circuit breaker, though both are still underfunded
regional transportation caucus
small group of reps west of 495 that deal with regional school districts
PARCC study: was an effort to "defund the Common Core" whilst there is no line item for Common Core
and Gobi now repeats the talking points from DESE on Common Core, which I'm not going to retype
"we understand that it's being it really a test? Have they totally gone down this route to PARCC? I don't have the answer to that"
"Come January, there will be a new governor...and who knows what the focus will be"
concern around access to technology, not only for PARCC, but to give kids access to what they need for the future
"a couple of quick points to make"
clarify exchange with a reporter that quoted as "eliminating the Chapter 70 formula" wants to start over and look at again (not just eliminate aid)
"don't want to punish children, obviously, but don't want to take away district funds for that"
partnership with QCC in Marlborough at Assebet
Rep. Ferguson:
"very busy but very positive budget week for us"
"many victories...though not exactly where we need to be yet"
on PARCC, discussed with Secretary Malone, technology issue
"we may be calling on your to advocate on that some more on issues related to the PARCC"
amendment to report on the cost and benefit of PARCC that passed
"very, very for foundation budget review commission"
"even if we don't like and can't deal with the answer that we least it gives us the goalpost...we should be heading towards"
amend pothole account
continuing to work on some bills in Education committee

Q: projection on revenue?
Brewer: based on 4.9% revenue growth..."It's an uncertain world we live in"
"global uncertainty has an effect"
"conservative estimate...agreed on 4.9% revenue growth"
IT bond...House has acted on it...information technology for DESE for PARCC testing
regional school superintendents: put it on the agenda
"I am the only one at this table who was there when we established the formula...just ahead of the court"
speaks of the few people who can explain the complex foundation formula
"funded through thick and thin over the decades"
Come November: "anybody that tells you that they love your schools and they love your kids...and they're going to cut billions out of your revenue stream, I've got some land to sell you in the Everglades. You can't have it both ways."

Q: what about funding tech?
Brewer: not only the bricks and mortar of the buildings, but the technology: can MSBA fund it?
Q: bond for technology? Based on needs?
Brewer: would go to administration and finance; would issue a bond prospectus
"we didn't get to the moon 47 years ago by laying on the couch with a clicker"
argues that PARCC didn't come from Washington...MCAS was the big scary thing once
"one person's grasp should go higher and higher"
Q: Medicaid reimbursement sent back to municipality, which doesn't always send it back to schools
Brewer: hears little about that
Gobi speaks of retiree assessment counting or not counting towards NSS
"forgive some of those penalties on that"
Brewer: pay-off over time; "wouldn't be a raid on the education fund"

Ferguson: a lot to do in this state on mental health
"taking a hard look at"
"what to do with this epidemic" of this mental health issues and addiction issues as well
"recognizing that we're still not doing enough"
McCall (superintendent of WRSD): "we're not staffed properly to support children at home"
"we don't have the type of supports really necessary to deal with the issues these kids are facing"
"we become the support system for these kids...other agencies benefits us, and others in society"
Brewer: "we're never going to win this battle by making our schools into the're going to win this one kid at a time"

Q: "my town picks my pocket any way they can" (about retirees) "left with a district that's 1400 students that was 1800 students when I came in..." Looking to have $324,000 repaid "don't find that as balance...hard to rationalize that kind of balance"

Q: ideal for work you'd want to accomplish in the Legislature?
Gobi: one is the foundation budget "that's the one we hear the most about...that is more equal, that better reflects what communities can pay"
Vocational ag programs: "for one student it's $45,000 to go to for Bay Path to pilot ag program"
"Wachusett used to have an ag was too bad when we lost that in central Mass"
Gregoire: autism spectrum..."a lot of what we're deal with is outside of school funding...would like to see increased funding for opportunities for educators"
"the way that (charter schools) are funded are a punishment for traditional public schools...should be funded by their own line item"
not all kids have their own technology
Ferguson: regional school transportation fully funded
foundation budget review, formula in general
full-day kindergarten initiative
Brewer: "what they all said...80% of the new growth in our budget is gobbled up by health care costs"
accessible and affordable health care; efficiencies and better metrics for this
"not everything for everyone all of the time"

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