Thursday, October 30, 2014

Here's what undercalculating the foundation budget looks like

I understand that it is possible that you didn't read the entirety of the backup or all of my notes from our F&O meeting on Tuesday. If so, you may have missed some vitally important numbers that we talked about in the meeting.
As the state moves towards reconsidering the foundation budget, we thought it important to establish some priorities that Worcester has on this question. In doing so, Mr. Allen pulled together some calculations that are, I'd say, eye-popping.
  1. Health insurance: By WPS estimation, our foundation budget is undercalculated on the health insurance assumption by $25 million each year (actual spending is $55 million; it is assumed at $30 million within the foundation budget).

  2. Special education: By WPS estimation, our foundation budget undercalculates the cost of special education by more than $35 million each year (through underestimating the number of children served as well as the cost of special education; actual spending is $61 million; foundation budget is $31 million).

  3. Inflation factor: in FY10, the state moved what quarter they used for the inflation factor, costing schools statewide more than $300 million that they never made up. The current inflation factor is based on spending by local and state governments, creating a vicious cycle: should states and cities spend less, the inflation factor is less, resulting less spending the next year, and so forth. Currently, the Worcester Public Schools are unfunded within inflation at $10 million each year. The inflation factor needs to be tied to something that doesn't result in this ridiculous cycle (and the missing year should be accounted for, as well). 
Note that in these cases, this is a straightforward incorrect calculation of actual costs by the state, a calculation that--because the Worcester Public Schools are funded right at, or just below the minimum--results in our having to move money that should be allocated towards other accounts to these. It throws off the entire budget.
We need, as Mr. Allen put it on Tuesday, "a fundamental recalculation" of the foundation budget. 

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