Saturday, November 8, 2014

Presentation on the Foundation Budget Commission (MASC)

Foundation Budget Review Commission workshop Posting as we go
want to prepare ourselves, get prepared to give feedback to the committee
most want to know what are the issues for you on the current foundation budget; how it is not working

Opening questions:

  • what do we need for resources to begin planning?
  • should we caucus with like-thinking groups?
  • what do we NOT want to have happen? What are dealbreakers?
  • Who are the difficult people in this process? How might we identify and deal with them?
  • What should MASC do to gather membership feedback?

  • "One other thing? There are acronyms everywhere. If you don't know them, ask!"

    Q: someone pointed out that the Foundation Budget salary figures are off as they're based on teachers needing a bachelor's degree, yet now they need a master's degree (or will shortly)
    Take the difference in the calculation in your budget, multiply by your teachers, and there's that gap

    Q: Since chapter 70 has held steady for us (in a district that gets 50% from state), but foundation budget goes up, town needs to hit an override about every five years to keep up.
    Also, if there is not an override, stuck with what is had.
    Difficult concept to explain to someone how the town assessment goes up by a higher percentage than the budget goes up by.

    Q: We have group homes. Kids who come in midyear aren't reflected in October 1 counts. Funding doesn't reflect actual population.

    And I threw in this on inflation, health insurance, and special education. Go find your numbers!
    The MassBudget report "Cutting Class" is online here. 

    Q: About municipal wealth calcuation; has it been changed? The answer is yes
    Response from Senator Jehlen that commission will only talk about foundation budget calculation, not about community allocation (aka, this is out of their purview and in the purview of the Legislature)

    Jehlen: difference of opinion on what the scope of the commission is; the chair thinks it's about getting kids to pass the MCAS. A broad base of education needs to be pushed if  that is to be brought forward
    Comment that "we're not going to go into the details of this" to which the Senator asked how they were going to get anything done

    Commission will be having listening tours, hearings, in various parts of the state
    Dates as published are here

    Look at what your net chapter 70 figures are once you've paid your charter assessments; some are negative (Cape Cod and the islands: definitely you!)

    Q: Look at the preamble to the special education law for a description of what education should be. Also concern that some who need services and aren't getting them due to costs concerns

    Q: homeless needs to be represented. "Welcome them all, have no problem taking care of them" but need assistance to do so. "I want to impress on you a sense of urgency."

    Q: change the focus on what education was looked at in terms of 1993 to what it is as defined in the Constitution and what it should be for us now

    Q: prison in our town, families of the prisoners are moved to town. Children are in school. Need to have an educated republic to go to the voting booth (Jefferson) and an educated workforce (Franklin). How is this Commission going to organize itself in terms of communication? How are we going to talk amongst ourselves? Can put on MASC website 

    Suggestion that MASC can come up with a template of things that you can investigate in your district to start to then present to commission

    Q: North Shore working group working to try to file another case; have a huge template already laid out; cost of lawsuit is the hold up. What about setting aside rainy day funds?

    Suggestion to start having forums in our towns about this issue

    Recommendation to read this book

    Q: it's a lot of money, but focus on one or two at at time

    Q: issue of students that go to vocational schools outside of district; costs so much more money to spend these students to those schools, not reflected in the budget

    Q: commission is opening it up for change? Going back year by year isn't possible; jam everything while the commission is active

    Charge of foundation budget commission is here

    "ought to be able to slip an entire elephant and two vans in under the tent" of that charge
    Comment from Southern Berkshire of the need for broadband
    Get what we can while we can, but we need to have an ongoing advocacy group after commission is done, both as a larger group and as School Committee
    suggestion that Division chairs have this as a topic that is being discussed, thus able to fight for what our membership wants

    "what if we had a wildly successful commission, what would it look like? What are the commonalities that we have?" Every district is pushed when we try to work with the most challenged students in our districts...children who are struggling the most are helped by any improvement

    Q: scope of commission? "We may not get more money, but what we should push for is intellectual honesty" We may not get more money, but we should at least be honest about what we are and aren't doing.

    When the costs of what we're doing aren't where they should be are brought up to where they should be, that's where the success lies.

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