Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The House budget is out! UPDATED

You can find the whole thing here; K-12 education starts with the 7010 accounts. I've tweeted out what I've found for the highlights. MASC and MassBudget have both promised analysis findings tomorrow.

First question: Does it deal with the Foundation Budget Review Commission's findings?

I think we can stay with "no" for that one. In the outside sections, there is language (scroll down to section 46) establishing a commission to look at the measurement of low income pupil populations within districts. The commission has to report back by mid-December of this year. However, it's abundantly clear that this is dealing with the Governor's budget switching to economically disadvantaged from free and reduced lunch. The House budget uses this calculation as well, but without changing the law in the outside sections, as the Governor's budget does (which I don't understand, to be frank).AHA! It's there, if you scroll all the way down to just before the local aid numbers on Section 3.
The concession the House budget gives is a one-time pothole account for the districts that were particularly hurt by the change to economically disadvantaged. It's funded at $10 million.
It isn't going to be enough for those districts, to be honest, and the question is if it will be enough of a distraction to keep attention from the larger issue, which is the whole foundation budget still needs to be fixed.

There will be lots of attention to the increase in Chapter 70. Yes, it increased. It also did so in a way--the per pupil minimum, which is not part of the foundation formula--that is unprogressive. That means that this slope from Professor Baker:

will only continue to get worse if the House budget is what we end up with.
(If you want to see what this looks like for your community, check Section 3 in the Governor's budget and then in the House budget [you'll need to use the tab to get there] and scroll WAY down. Then poke around a bit and notice which communities went up and which didn't. That's how you get unprogressive education funding.)

Regional transportation aid is up by a million. Circuit breaker reimbursement is up by $5 million.

There's a new teacher preparation line item for $1.7M, which I'm unclear on what it's doing.

There's also a new line item (7061-9406) for $700,000 for (quite specifically) JFY Networks to do statewide college and career readiness, tested by before and after Accuplacer exam. If anyone wants to look into why we're specifically allocating that to them, I'd be interested. Given that the Higher Ed Board has been working on pilots that move away from using Accuplacer (with some success), this whole thing strikes me as odd and a bit sketchy.

Otherwise, about every line item is either down or the same.

Notable is the charter school reimbursement which is $15 million less than Governor Baker's budget. It also doesn't make the change in how it works that the Governor proposed.

The assessment line item is funded at $3.7 million less (when they're saying we need more to develop the new test).
Targeted intervention is down by $500,000 from Governor Baker's budget.
AP math and science grant is down $500,000 from the Governor's budget.
After and out of school grants are down $500,000 from Governor Baker's budget.
Safe and Supportive schools is down $300,000 from Governor Baker's budget.
And Mass Mentoring is down $100,000.

They don't do the early learning merger that the Governor proposed (watch those line items).

I really don't have anything to add to what was said in the closing of the Foundation Budget Review Commission:
...the good work begun by the education reform act of 1993, and the educational progress made since, will be at risk so long as our school systems are fiscally strained by the ongoing failure to substantively reconsider the adequacy of the foundation budget.
The House budget continues this ongoing failure. 

Oh, and Worcester? Exactly the same as the Governor's budget. The same $3.2M increase up against an $11M level service budget. 

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