Monday, September 28, 2015

Foundation Budget Review Commission September meeting

I'll update as we go once we've started..
Looking at the overhead, it appears that Melissa King from DESE is presenting on "in-district special education costs compared to foundatoin budget--revised"
Chang-Diaz announces that they have appointed a consultant (and I totally did not catch the name; this room swallows sounds...David Bunker!)
minutes accepted
David Bunker (consultant) "walking through his work plan" per Chang-Diaz
he was legislative aide to Hal Lane (who he had as high school principal which means he's a Wachusett kid!)
research director for Joint Committee
elected as state rep, then to House Ways and Means as Director of Special Projects
CFO for the Executive office for Education (I just looked this up on Linked in. Does anyone know if he's getting the time off to do this or is doing it as part of his job? UPDATE from Senator Chang-Diaz's office: he left after the change in administration.)
Thank you to Senator Jehlen for saying she can't hear! Me, either!
summarize work proposal: a month left, choices to be made over the coming month
how can we use that time to be sure that places with an achievement gap get the resources they need, particularly for ELL and low income students
also other foundation assumptions that we will look at "as we can"
not only about research, but about writing final report
discussing with people in the field what they think might be useful
looking at national research
reviewing RTTT requests: many letters from superintendents referenced RTTT
asking members of the commission who would be most useful in consulting
"high achieving districts serving high numbers of low income and ELL students"
"what do you think you need and what are your recommendations about the effective use of money"
"effectively both principles will be woven in"
talking "especially to superintendents, or administrators with some business background, and business managers"
"teachers or administrators with some teaching background"
Chang-Diaz: talk about catagories of what is discussed and who is spoken to
Jehlen: didn't see any weighing for vocational students
Chang-Diaz: would push back on adding to the list at this point
Q1: what extra resources are needed to address the achievement gap particularly for ELL and low income students?
question is always is this something you want everyone to do or something you need to focus on particularly for these needs
whether there is any capacity to or interest in to discuss concentrations of poverty
Q2: review of national literature on weighings; national research of best practices
"fair amount of literature about that"
district level spending data, state level spending level
Race to the Top submissions, one suggestion that some had was how much they thought they needed for Race to the Top
"they may not have told us everything they need, but" may give some direction
interviews with the field
other suggestions of non-achievement gap districts
look at places that are spending above foundation:and where the funding over foundation (once special ed and health care are paid for) is going
fairly tight timeline
one meeting between now and the end of October to bring back information and then start writing for the end of October
Chang-Diaz clarifies that district-level spending data
Verdolino questions if the commission has "adequately" addressed the special ed and health insurance
he comments that "this is about my package" (thus that question will not be addressed by him)
MTA: look at current allotments to see if existing ratios can accomodate increases, if not, they may need to be changed
"We're only interested in catagories that will address the achievement gap?"
"just to be clear, we're not going to do anything about student-teacher ratio or other items, under this model?" Agreement
Chang-Diaz: is the allotment that's currently written into the foundation budget enough to produce success? He'll attempt to answer that question. The answer may be we don't know. It may be that it's not sufficient everywhere. Or the answer may be that it needs to be adjusted to communities that have high concentrations of low income or ELL.
"those populations exists in many places"
MTA: "the middle class kid, wherever, has an interest in a lower class size as well"
"it looks as though we're going to take up all the issues besides the inflation factor"
Agreement. If other things are going to be fixed, may not need to be fixed (!!)
MASS rep: cautionary notes
"when we're talking about district spending above the attention" to where it goes
what are we using for achievement? MCAS? PARCC? are we also using ACCESS for ELL students?
highlight on ELL allotment; recommend bumping up allotment in K-8 fo gaps of students that have come from elsewhere
Reville: outcomes model versus an input orientated model. What are we looking for in the end?
are you coming up with interventions that have been successful and how much those are? Are we going to be categorical as we ask for additional increments?
response: trying to stay away from specific interventions
bulleted points were taken from the initial report
"district's existing flexibility on what interventions are being used"
Reville "trying to discover what works and what doesn't work before we put in more money"
hope that if the evidence suggests that these types of interventions work that you'd include that so we can include that in our deliberations
Chang-Diaz: districts that co-chairs have suggested that he focus on
districts that are spending above foundation and showing strong outcomes as a district
what are they putting into professional development, etc? to get these strong results
we're not going to acknowledge that most of the districts that fund over foundation are also higher income districts that also would have higher test scores, anyway? Also just got a reminder that the Hancock case said that lower spending districts with higher test scores were NOT evidence that funding wasn't needed
MBAE: may not be right to look at district, rather than individual student needs, suggest looking at individual student needs and management and controls
Wulfson: intervening school level: may be "interschool distributional effects"
where the money for the kids who go to that school actually go to that school
Jehlen: how do you know a high achieving district? Student scores in achievement or in growth
"at this point, we almost have to look at both"
Reville: is there looking at low spending districts with high achievement?
correlation with school practices
Peisch: identifying districts with high populations of ELL and low income that are high achieving (most relevant)
Verdolino: (who suggests that if MASBO sees this, his job could be on the line) Title I is by defintion is by defintion a low income grant; if low income dollars were to segregated into a specific pot, you'd have accountability. Otherwise, I don't know how you'd have accountability
gets to be "very difficult in the cost accounting"
Chang-Diaz: other things you'd encourage David to have in his interview questions
Moreau: a little dubious about the scope he has here
very early on identifying two major expenses, yet major overhaul not being in the cards
low income increment is going to need to be address by Board regardless
no, it's going to need to be addressed by Legislature
should outline some general principles for that work
day coming for greater granularity for spending "that in and of itself will be an enormous task" suggests thus outlining it
Verdolino: are enough dollars being devoted to performing this?
might also ask if you were allowed to spend foundation budget on that category, would that be sufficient?
Jehlen: Education Trust report: assume that low income should be 40%; ours is around 30%. Should be thinking about that question as well
Schuster: comparing staffing ratios to budget will be hard statewide, but could be done district by district
could be done, would be very instructive
MASBO has undertaken exactly that; "we may be able to put that in front of you"
Schuster: schedule? Commissioners should get thoughts to Dave how?
will be sure his contact information is shared
MBAE: don't think should look at current models; should ask what districts are doing to reform their staffing models "to make new models more appropriate for kids"
MASBO working on a model, reminder going out to members who are working on it
Jehlen asks for draft ahead

in-district sped: Melissa King from DESE
some of this is looking at the same thing as previously
"only eight slides"
"What we have to say about this is pretty aggregated"
on average districts spend a lot more than is in the foundation budget
actual cots $30,161 vs $24,368
adding recommendation from commission brings it to $37,589
about 7% increase in budget and in enrollment
foundation budget is calculated using an estimate of time receiving sped services
categories don't line up precisely, nor do actual costs
not definative, if you look at sped placement, full inclusion is up to 20% of the time receiving services
could have wide variation depending on what you assume
by and large, districts spend more than is alloted for in the foundation budget
"why is there a difference in cost? Well, there are more teachers on the ground."
I totally can't read these charts, BTW...I'll see if I can snag one to at least take photos
"Obviously, staff being the biggest cost driver"
Rep Ferguson: "this was a huge issue that we spend hours talking about and looking"
"grossly underreported and underrepresented"
districts doing a great job keeping our kids in and sending them out to costly programs
This has been the biggest issue brought to me
Moreau (who says he's attempting to channel Moscovitch) need for better data and how it correlates
MASS: change in best practices from 1993, very few subseparate classrooms where teachers with only a small handful of kids
special ed teacher assigned to a co-teacher within the classroom
"that means you need more staff to be able to pull off the best practice for our students who need the support of best practices"
Verdolino: "I suspect you're employing those staff...if you look at most important lines of teachers, teaching staff and in school staff"
may actual being spent, but money is coming from outside of that category
quick math $650M short
"that's the magitude of the issue in a nutshell"
Schuster: "very clear...actual staffing levels is over 30% below foundation budget for actual teaching"
"are we wasting money by hiring more teachers than we need ?"
"I don't know what the right answer is" wonders who would know correct staffing level
"I don't know that we need much more data beyond that"
MBAE: question is how do you address the gap? address the gap going forward
"just appropriating more money wouldn't do that"
also remember Commissioner that there are programmatic ways that the gap could be addressed
Moreau: if we have no capacity to know what we're doing and trace what we're doing, we don't know how it's being spent
"general notion of more intent services" is good, but problem with going beyond
"probably being services being delivered to the student being delivered to the student by the classroom teachers"
"perhaps the gap is in" what the regular classroom teacher isn't delivering
Reminder that IEP services must be delivered by a special education licensed educator
Chang-Diaz: how predictable are the needs from year to year? are you able to pretty predictably set a budget?
within a range (of 10%) it's predictable
know that the more we do inclusion, we increase class size
Chang-Diaz question about "other teaching services" being higher
need for guidance and such being higher in that population
only way to determine actual need under language delay and such is to test in both languages, also need to translate IEPs into different languages for parents

MBAE: improve quality of information that state has:
establish a data advisory committee overseen by DESE in collaboration with executive office
"effective and efficient allocation"
add, beyond usual suspects, charter schools and collaboratives
major goals would be improving financial reporting
people who use the data express some frustration at quality and consistency of data
work to strengthen department's capacity to report and develop local capacity to use the data well
report annually to Board of Ed and Joint Committee chairs
exploration of what finacial impacts of reporting would be
anticipation of increased costs: "impossible to predict what that would be"
"want to be sure that the ways districts report don't become the tail that wags the dog of how programming is done"
only recently has Title I allowed to provide services across the whole school "so tail doesn't wag the dog" and accounting doesn't create the programming
"don't want to create the same problem that finally got solved for Title I"
state really does need more data around things like inclusion
presumably "effective and efficient" ways to do inclusion, likewise ineffective and inefficient ways
some back and forth about teacher salaries and what level of information the state gets; upshot is that teacher salaries are public record
MBAE: think that groups made up "of the usual suspects" start with current model
also should include early childhood
Reville: doing this as part of our report? Yes. And this is assumed to be under authority of Commission to establish?
Peisch: think Commissioner could, but we might consider if we want to do so
so far, both teachers' unions and the vocational association have asked to be included
Does this have a defined life? Imagine it being a committee that would end
"can be eliminated when it is no longer needed"
Verdolino: a lot would depend on the training and implementation phase
bringing them in increases the chances that they could play a role in implementation
Jehlen: want to be really excited about streamlining and duplicative reporting
make sure we include all resources
"how do you know what is effective and efficient if you don't know what the goal is? If the goal is increase MCAS achievement, what's efficient is eliminating art and music."
admission that this won't necessarily result in fewer reports being required from the state
Chang-Diaz: what's your reaction to this overall?
must be linked to what the use of the data is and how it improves work in classrooms
MOTION to include in Commission report
Moreau: there are creative minds out there that would come to the table, but they can put something together without having any feel for what it MEANS to the field; thus crucial to have those doing the work at the table and should include IT

after a break, Commission now looking at Part B of the other options before them:

  • Limit the use of new funding to investments in the following initiatives to be described in a publicly accountable benchmarked school improvement plan. The parameters of those individually crafted plans would invest from the following priorities: (1) Provide greater support for low-income and ELL students; (2) Expanded teacher professional development; (3) Hiring staff at levels that support improved studentperformance; (4) Purchase and implementation of technology and instructional materials; (5) Expanded learning time (day / year / venue); (6) Add instructional coaches; (7) Provide wrap-around services that engage the entire community and families in strengthening the social emotional support system for students; (8) Provide common planning time for instructional teams;
  • Designate an investment component of the Foundation Budget and require that funds allocated to the investment accounts be spent on those investment items. Underscore the importance of these investments by requiring each district to report annually on how it intends to spend its investment funds, how it intends to measure its success, and (after the first year) whether itsucceeded in reaching its goal;
  • Establish a better data collection system that allows for greater access to school-level expendituresand data; 
  • Ensure that additional funds attributable to low-income and ELL students are spent on programs and services that support the needs of those particular students; and
  • Establish an innovation fund distributed competitively to meet specific goals asking if there are differences among suggestions

MARVA concern about competive granting which measures ability of districts to write grants
MTA: last one, adding a fund outside of the foundation budget: "how does that fit into accountability for additional funds"...different category
agreement from Chang-Diaz
"foundation budget shouldn't have anything to do with competitive grants"
MBAE: legimate question on if it should be included, but different fund for supporting ideas that are most promising ideas could have some sort of support
Peisch: certain tension between ensuring the money is well-spent and every district and every school has its own challenges, and what may be the best way to address a challenge in one school may not be the right answer for all
"have to really consider what is the best way on the one hand that the dollars get to the students that need them...and at the same time ensure that the people who are on the ground can make the decision that serve the students best"
going to require a fair amount of thought
suggest maybe looking at proposed language for the next meeting
MASS: innovation fund interpreted as start-up funds, where is sustainability after two or three years
careful of word "services" (which for Title III doesn't mean 'salaries')
MASC: distinction of "new funding": is it new funding with respect to fully recognizing special ed and health insurance or is it recognizing services to ELL and low income and such?
can understand concern of Legislature that there be some accountability issue there;if you recognize the funding that I'm spending on special education and health insurance, why wouldn't I then be able to fund art or music (or whatever had been cut meanwhile)?
also, accountable to local district voters
And also, who is going to measure it?
response that it would be included with school or district improvement plan (one of those don't run through SC)
additional funds if I receive them, additional funds will go to restoring programs lost; I don't have the flexibility in here
suggestion is "and development of whole child"
Chang-Diaz: tool for soft accountability for parents to value
MASS: to me, where community places values
Hatch: not sure you can even measure "new funding" unless you run old formula versus new formula and some districts wouldn't get any more than minimum aid
Moreau: perhaps it's simple staying in the same Reville "loose and tight" accountability
performing low, have to report more strictly to state; performing higher, less to state
in hearings, very many different thoughts: individual districts can get funds for the specific needs for a particular area
just going to interject here that the utter mistrust of local government by state authority in these sorts of things is appalling
Question is if those categories are all covered in question 1
MASC: infrastructure: maybe cut custodians, maybe cut routine maintenance
all of which are bad policy, and that's not included in here
Chang-Diaz: at some point, as we begin to broaden the area, the point becomes meaningless
"if this is the new money here, can you spend the old money on buildings?"
putting discussion on hold, bringing forward at next meeting
Peisch says forward language to chairs for next meeting for David Bunker
Next meeting is October 16

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