Friday, May 19, 2017

Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner, DESE (MASBO Annual Institute)

"obviously the state budget is on everyone's mind"
FBRC recommendations "have clearly taken hold"
some start made in each budget towards that

"if we're going to maintain our schools at the high level they are at now, we're going to need to spend additional resources"
anemic recovery, at the same time
conference committee going to be looking at cut
"we're a big enough part of the budget" that we expect there will be cuts
"if you haven't already started working on contingency plans" for state aid level below those seen, it's time to start
make sure that your district understands the relationship between the foundation budget and state aid; that relationship is different for every district
"when we talk about potential cuts to need to know if you're getting foundation aid, which is guaranteed by the constitution, or state aid that puts you way above that required"
federal level: hard to say what it will look like
on state aid level for future years "muddling along with modest increases every year"
Fair Share amendment
state rainy day fund is coming back, but not at a level that would support in an significant economic downturn
districts that are growing versus the majority of districts that have declining enrollment
districts that are gaining 5-6% enrollment versus those losing it
"we're almost reaching a crisis state" in those districts
hold harmless aid and minimum student aid
"have too much capacity in those areas of the state"
districts and schools fighting among themselves for those remaining students

MCAS grades 3-8: challenge to get new test out
required computer testing in grades 4 and 8
240,000 tests administered on computers across the state
"more work ahead" as shift comes to put all tests online
"will pay real dividends...we want to get technology in our classrooms"
if they aren't familiar technology before they graduate, they won't be where they need to be when they graduate
98.5% participation rate in ELA test
"don't think the so-called opt-out movement got much traction this year"

Foster children (in ESSA)
transportation back to home districts if in best interest of child
"fought for days about who would pay for it"
local districts "have to pay for transportation if they agree to it"
is it a federal mandate? state doesn't have funding?
if district does not provide transportation are you not meeting legal requirement?
"we're trying unravel it"
"good ideas and good intentions that are not well thought out"

OPEB and disclosing unfunded liability
pressure to put aside money to cover future benefits; has clear budget implications
expected returns on pension investments keeps sliding down, and people keep living longer
unfunded liability in pensions thus also keep creeping up

new pressures on school level data reporting because of ESSA
spending disparities between schools in a district
RADAR: comparisons in data between and among districts
"asking you to do more with less"
"things that might help you guide your school committee in budget decisions"
next generations will be depend on what we hear from MASBO
"what's useful, what's missing"

Q on Senate budget numbers; "put it at about 50/50 that those (Ch.70) numbers go forward"
usually if they need to cut, they start with charter reimbursement, but that's been level funded for years now
then they look at circuit breaker, which is close to fully funded

Q: mandates
many coming from isn't any single one, but the number of them
"rather than talk in generalities, come to us with specifics"
"it's tough finding those good examples...on their own, they're not that burdensome"

Q: cuts for this year? next? numbers?
several hundred million in cuts for next year

Q; any statewide work around building statewide capacity on vocational ed?
Baker has places a high priority on it
Very expensive to expand them
expanding those means expanding academic side, leaving space in other schools
looking at models other than full time vocational enrollment
grants to explore different models and different ways
"not every child is ready in eighth grade to commit to four years in a vocational program...need to be just as concerned about the eleventh grader who has just found himself"
meet multiple needs "without stealing from one district to another school"

Q on federal grants: awkward situation that you're having to put together budgets without knowing how much money you're going to get

"The future of the going to depend on having an educated workforce...and we more than any other state recognize that, work on that, and have achieved that"

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