Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Senate budget on K-12 education

The Senate budget is now posted. Nearly all of the following can be found under the "Appropriations" tab of the Senate post; I tweeted out what I found as I found it earlier today.

Please consider this my plea that the Legislature and Governor agree on a single format. Personally, I'd like the Governor's which has columns comparing past years. 

The big news is that the Senate's Chapter 70 amount is $20 million over the House amount. This is for two reasons: first, they've decreased community effort to 85% (meaning that towns' required spending on schools can go down; for some this will increase the state aid; Worcester is one of these). The big one, though (and one I want to pull the numbers on and do more with) is they're holding harmless the districts that were hit in the switch to economically disadvantaged. That means that they aren't doing the "pothole" that the Senate had; instead, they're taking a bit of what MassBudget suggested (not all of it) and, while they're using the economically disadvantaged numbers for the low income calculation in the foundation budget, they're also adding this bit (which you can find at the top of the "Local Aid" tab):
Each district shall be held harmless to the aid amount calculated using the district’s fiscal year 2016 percentage of low income foundation enrollment applied to the district’s fiscal year 2017 total foundation enrollment multiplied by the fiscal year 2016 low income rates for elementary and secondary students adjusted for inflation.
So if a district would have done better with  FY16 low income numbers applied to FY17 enrollment, you get that instead of the amount calculated under ED. That's a big difference! Do note, however, that if FY16 is used, while it's those higher poverty rates, it's the lower poverty rates.
There also is the language I mentioned earlier included on how low income is calculated and the annual implementation of the foundation budget review commission recommendations.
The Senate is also keeping the $55/pupil minimum aid increase with the attendant issues of doing things that way.
Something that will be a big worry to some districts (including my own) is that the Quality K grant is funded at $2M. Funding at last year (or the House) level is over $18M.
Regional transportation is funded at the Governor, not House level, so down $1M from the House.
METCO, McKinney-Vento transportation reimbursement, and AP expansion are the same as the House.
There's a line for transportation of non-resident vocational students of $1.7M, which was not in the House.
The circuit breaker is up over $3M from the House number.
Charter reimbursement is up $87.5M from the $85.5M the House budgeted (all those times we've talked about this: they were listening!).
Innovation schools (not in the House) are in for $500K.
MCAS is in at the same $25M.
The breakfast line item, which is down a bit from the House but doesn't have other things stuffed in it, also requires DESE to work on implementing breakfast in the classroom in the schools that are 60% free and reduced lunch.
Grants for after school programs are up by $600K from the House.
There's $350K allocated for DESE to implement a pilot alternative assessment, which I believe means that all of us out here talking about the inadequacy of the current means of assessment are being heard by at least the Senate.
There's also $250K allocated for an alternative education grant (which I suspect is the Senate's way of handling that we didn't go very far on handling the increased need after the Chapter 222 changes).
Youth mentoring is up $350K from the House.
Finally, there's $250K for the implementation of the "index of creative and innovative education" which was called for in the 2010 Act Relative to the Achievement Gap (right, you don't hear that mentioned often, do you?).

Amendments are due by end of day tomorrow; deliberation starts on Monday.

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