Sunday, May 1, 2016

H4219 from Rep. Rogers being heard by Joint Education on Friday (AND IT IS FBRC RECOMMENDATIONS!)

Late Friday, word went around that the Joint Committee on Education will be hearing H4219 this Friday at noon in room A2 (this isn't yet posted, so keep an eye out). I mentioned this bill back in January when Rep. Rogers spoke of it as part of his plans for the coming year.

The big news is:

  • it's a Foundation Budget Review Commission bill
  • it's coming from the House (the Senate dealt with FBRC in the Rise Act) 

  • SO what's in the bill?
    • data reporting, with a specific eye on ELL and low income students, school level spending, and a continued stream of reporting to a (continued) commission on the foundation budget, plus a "stakeholder data advisory committee" within in the FBRC recommendations
    • special ed's in-district assumption to go to 4% (5% for vocational). This is the FBRC rate. It is far from reality. 
    • out-of-district special ed as described in the FBRC report: 
    • 4 times the statewide foundation budget per-pupil amount less the statewide foundation budget per-pupil amount plus out-of-district special education cost rate Note that 2017 would be the new base rate and it would increase by the Consumer Price Index. That was NOT specified in the FBRC...that mention of the CPI is particularly interesting, as it is not the inflation rate to which everything else in the foundation budget is tied. UDPATE: It also is generally LOWER than the inflation rate used in the foundation budget (thanks, Luc!).
    • retiree health insurance is added to the foundation budget; specifically, "the fiscal year per capita cost of retired employee health insurance"
    • employee health insurance is tied to the GIC rate
    • ELL is increased for districts that have 55% or more students that are ELL (at a rate that's 20% of foundation for each student before the ELL increment is added). It's a reimbursement, but the first allotment comes as an advance at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is not at all how the recommendation went in the FBRC report.
    • And there's to be a Foundation Budget Review Commission each year.

    So the FBRC report card is:
    Health insurance and special ed: IN and as in the report which leaves some room on in-district
    ELL: IN but not as in the report (and in a way that leaves out much of the state...even Worcester isn't 55% ELL)
    low income: OUT but to be reported on
    inflation: OUT
    preschool: OUT

    So, not a terrible bill, and hopeful that it's coming from the House, but there's some room here for improvement. 
    And yes, I'll be there on Friday.

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