The ruling holds up an unflattering mirror to Massachusetts, where the school-aid formula, also known as Chapter 70, has remained unchanged for 23 years. In that time, the educational landscape has been profoundly altered by a variety of factors, especially demographics and special-education needs. The formula is designed to have an equalizing effect, with less wealthy districts receiving more state aid than wealthier ones. But the system’s starting point, known as the foundation budget (the funding level needed to provide an adequate education to all students in a district), has been found to underestimate the cost of educating students by at least $1 billion. Per-pupil spending ranges from more than $25,000 (in Cambridge and Provincetown) to about $11,000 (Southampton and Grafton). It is politically difficult, to say the least, for a group of legislators to negotiate a new funding formula, especially if it’s a zero-sum game that will give to some school districts while taking from others. Efforts torevise the funding formula have centered on adding money to the school-aid budget, a politically easier task were there additional funding to be had. But there isn’t. Governor Charlie Baker and legislative leaders face making cuts as budget funding gaps continue to surface.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Excellent Globe editorial on the foundation budget review commission
Excellent and timely editorial in the Globe this morning: