Thursday, May 31, 2018

“School is still a very safe place for children"

Really important point being raised by Bridgewater State University professor Elizabeth Englander:
“If you hear a lot about a risk, then you tend to regard that risk as a likely event. This is true even if, in reality, the risk is very low,” Englander said. 
“School is still a very safe place for children, statistically. But because we hear so many reports of shootings, it begins to feel like a much more dangerous place,” she said. 
Englander said this poses a dilemma for school administrators. “The difficulty is if you don’t reveal it to the public, you’re accused of hiding it, but if you do reveal it to the public you risk adding to the saliency effect,” Englander said. 
As a result, students are “living with the stress of feeling there’s a sword of Damocles over their heads,” Englander said.

And speaking of school buildings in Worcester

The Worcester School Committee's Finance and Operations subcommittee met yesterday with the City Council's education committee to talk about the long-awaited facilities report (yes, that's a link to the report online; it's up!). I caught a bit of it in the car (tweets here) and was caught by the new discussion of possible mergers of elementary schools...
...as was T&G reporter Scott O'Connell, thus this morning's headline.
Note, though, that as much as the consultant did seem rather taken with this notion of mergers, this was less about that, and more about Worcester having (not news to us) a lot of old buildings and smaller schools. If those need major rehab, such that new buildings would make more sense, we (and MSBA) aren't going to build on the same plan. New buildings have cafeterias and space for special ed and follow modern specs around light and air and such. And they're bigger.

And yes, that's my way of telling you not to freak out over mergers. And, as noted in the article:
While Mr. Allen said district administrators have not begun planning any such school consolidations yet, he noted Worcester went through a similar contraction several decades ago. In response to a committee question about how families might react to losing their school to a possible merger, Mr. Allen said, “If you can show parents what you can get with a larger, newer school,” the School Department hopefully will be able to earn community buy-in.
Worcester isn't new to school mergers. And unlike other places, it hasn't been our less vocal, more poor, more of color sections of the city that have lost schools.

Don't lose sight of the main point here, though: We have a massive backlog of needed renovation and repairs at our schools. That's on the city capital budget (and, more broadly, it's on the state's foundation funding, in terms of maintenance).
What are we going to do about that, Worcester? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What poor kids miss in the summer

It matters:
While nearly two-thirds of students from non-poor families visited an “art galleries, museums, or historical sites with family members during the summer,” only one-third of poor students did. 
Just 15 percent of low-income families reported taking their kids to a play or concert over the summer, compared with a third of non-poor families. 
There were also major gaps in students likelihood of attending summer camp: 39 percent of non-poor kids did, compared with just 7 percent of children from poor families.
What aren't they missing?
A larger subset of poor families than non-poor families said they had their children work on math and writing activities every day...And one-third of kindergarten graduates of all income levels looked at or read books every day.
(Note those are two articles covering the same study.)

I hope this summer the phone calls from the district are less about reading and math and more about free concerts, museums, and other events.

PS: Dan Gleason (Ayer-Shirley School Committee) notes one more thing poor kids miss in summer:

Testimony on FY19 in Worcester

The video of last Monday night's public hearing on the Worcester Public Schools' budget is posted.
  • The presentation begins at about 3:50
  • Mr. Comparetto's question about the funding of police is at 27:10
  • Public comment opens at 32:40
An exchange that was remarked upon was Superintendent Binienda's remarks about police in schools; you can find that at 54 minutes in. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Worcester school budget before City Council

Liveblogging from the City Council's hearing of the Worcester Public Schools' budget this afternoon at 4:30. Per the agenda, it looks like they've got the law department, property and casuality insurance, and court judgments up first, so it will probably be a bit.  Someone just said "They're going on first," so maybe it won't be a bit!
A few things of note: this is, of course, a hearing on the orange slice below, no matter what the City Manager may leading with on his page...
...the bulk of WPS spending comes from everywhere-other-than-the-city, and while I am sure (add it to your BINGO cards) someone will talk about "the biggest part of the budget being the Worcester Public Schools," neither the City Manager nor the City Council in any way can do anything with Ch. 70 save spend it on schools. 
I'd argue, in fact, that the Council tonight is really only talking about $4M, which is the amount the City Manager has allocated over the amount the city is required to spend on schools (within net school spending). As that's still just squeaking over 1%, let's not get out the ticker tape just yet. 
There are some councilors for whom this is the first WPS budget, so we'll have to see what Wally and Rose have to say. You can also watch for at least one question already being in the budget book, some back and forth about "working relationships," and district councilors somehow making this all about their districts. Even odds this morning's report on the enormous and expensive backlog of repairs of schools coming up; the capital budget isn't on tonight's agenda, but it should be on people's minds. Also, Councilor King did mention the amount of municipal contribution coming in as policing last week during the WPD hearing, so that may come up as well. 
4:36 and a quorum of Council is here, the Mayor just came in (and has to be back out in time for South High's graduation, as does the Superintendent, come to think of it)...

Petty: now we're going to talk about the budget questions and answer those first...how are we looking this year for teachers this year?
Allen: reallocation of teachers from elementary to secondary...if the Senate number is approved, it's about $3.3M for us, we'd restore those elementary positions and add additional positions as well
Binienda: and we'd add the tutors back as well
Petty asks Allen to review why the budget is not as expected
overall budget is up just over 2%, new contractual positions in elementary...biggest driver is state funding
"change in the way the state is providing funding for economically disadvantaged students shorted us $2M"
plus charter and circuit breaker underfunding shorts 55 teacher positions (worth)
Petty: includes funding for students from Puerto Rico
Allen: budget includes $2M for next year

Budget decisions have consequences...Worcester's are arriving

And over time, they can get expensive...
Even the $70 million worth of immediate repairs, which include fixes and upgrades to current inoperative systems and life safety equipment in older school buildings, won’t be something the district can tackle all at once, he said; the school department typically only sets aside around $2 million a year to spend on building maintenance and repairs. The total repair costs identified for all 28 schools assessed in the report, meanwhile, would be more than $300 million, the summary said; replacing all of them would cost close to $700 million.
There's a joint subcommittee meeting on this on Wednesday at 5. While the full report isn't yet posted, you can find a three page (fairly unsatisfying) executive summary and the presentation posted off the agenda.

Don't miss, by the way, the relationship to the city capital budget, as reported in today's T&G: $118M, of which only $3.6M (which, if that's accurate, is about $1M more than usual) goes to schools.
There are fifty buildings. See the problem?

UPDATE: here's an interview on Worcester News Tonight: 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Speaking of budgets...

I spent about a half hour with Hank Stoltz Friday morning, talking about the Worcester school budget, the state budget, and related school issues. The recording is up here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reading roundup

a few things I've read of interest...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Board of Ed update on FY19 budget

Bell: state assessment funding already went over earlier
spending right now in FY18
both House and Senate just passed the supplemental budget; on Governor's desk
includes $12.5M for support for circuit breaker
AND INCLUDES $2.5M for charter school payments
earlier $15M for student evacuees
already distributed $6.7M in April (expenses til March)
round two of $8.3M (March to end of school year)
second data capture to distribute funding
based it on a FTE basis
federal government when it "finally produced an FY19 bill"
also a federal emergency impact aid bill
anyone from Hurricane Harvey, Maria, and CA wildfire
"we don't anticipate a lot of students from Texas or California"
in process of collecting data from the districts to also have those districts reimbursed by the federal government
"we as a state need to file an application by the 4th of June"
finalizing data collection: will be two opportunities
anticipating funding in late June, early July
intended for this year; "will be an accounting exercise" once they get it (as the fiscal year will have ended)
"remains to be seen if these values will hold, as it's a $2.5B national pot"

FY19: Senate budget currently being deliberated
theme "strong commitment to education local aid accounts"
Senate in best position
implementation of low income shift in future year
ELL increment
value of Senate circuit breaker would probably be 71 or 72%
additional charter reimbursement in the Senate; "it's not where the need statement is...but it's still a significant increase"
hoping assessment item comes in through amendment (as Senate W&M has it in lower), doesn't go to conference committee

Report from the State Student Advisory Council from Hannah Trimarchi at the Board of Ed

and I wish we got these reports...
who is the state student advisory council: students from across the state meeting every two months
reps from high schools gather regionally; regional reps gather statewide
"and they get a lot of work done"
"and they're all peer elected"

Automated test scoring at the Board of Ed

Riley: we're at an interesting point in education, where it's time to look in the future
"interested in shrinking the amount of time we spend on testing"
"shrink the amount of time so we can increase the amount of instruction"
"that may mean computer adaptive testing," we can figure out where a child is at a point in time
"leave open the possibilities to explore everything"
"maybe it will not work out; maybe it will"
"figure out how to make it better"
might shrink the wait time to return scores

Revised history and social studies at the Board of Ed

the backup is here
note that this is for discussion, not vote
presenting proposed changes in respons to public comment
and gain board input on revised framework to prep for June meeting (and vote)
and we're doing the review of what they've done so far and who was consulted
priorities are to emphasize civics education and to deepen understanding
rigor, clarity, and coherence of frameworks
"a robust public comment period"

Board of Ed on Level 5: the Dever School

there's a backup here
Johnston: seeing teachers planning together
"students receiving the same theme-based rigorous learning" throughout the building
substantially subseparate classrooms for students with social-emotional issues; "caring staff" finding ways to support students in their learning

Board of Ed honors New Mission High

backup here
Superintendent Chang is up!
instroduces Dr. Wilson, the principal of New Mission High
Wilson: a pilot school, one of 21 BPS pilot schools
"to create these educational innovation spaces"
"exam school without the exam"
college admission and social justice
"not only fierce in the classroom; we're also fierce on the field or on the court"

Opening remarks at the Board of Ed in Marblehead


The agenda is online here. This will open with a welcome from Marblehead to the Board of Ed, so don't expect regular business until after 11 or so.  Posting as we go as I have a connect; wifi is super wonky and weak...

Sagan:Held special meeting this month; presentation on accountability; expect to take a vote on the system in June
Congratulations to Morton his honorary degree

Riley:
have been visiting schools as part of Leading the Nation
"while I have some issues around the Leading the Nation campaign itself, celebrating teachers and schools is incredibly important"
coming in today is New Mission High:"beginning a process of bringing in some great schools"
 and talk about what's important: hey! This is a thing that I complain about! Hurray!
accountability: entering a new era
"really need to be thoughtful about the direction we're going"
notes students at Stoughton High; condolences on behalf of the Board and the entire department

Monday, May 21, 2018

Worcester Public Schools FY19 budget hearing

Posting as we go once it starts...
Foley: hearing at a time that the budget has been issued
information that's really important about the public schools
"strategic direction" of district
hearing, then one item regarding legal services
ensure there is also information about the foundation budget
"many, many years now have been dealing with the same issue"
"what is going to happen at the state level to find solutions and fill gaps that are crippling our public school districts?"
1st and 3rd Thursdays of June at 4 pm will be School Committee review of budget
"whatever you say tonight, we will make sure gets conveyed back to the full committee"

Binienda: budget based on limited dollars
hopeful if the Senate and House pass a better budget, hope to restore teaching positions to elementary
"large portion of our population has switched from elementary to secondary"
"certainly we feel this budget meets the needs of the district...btut we want to do more than that"

Allen: condensed presentation of full committee will include addition of foundation budget
budget change over last year is $6.5M (inflation factor, benefit change, enrollment drop, change in poverty allocation, charter assessment)
Level funded budget is $7.2M
schools requested add $11M additional

elementary enrichment "will focus on technology or literacy" scheduled similarly to art and music
insourcing transportation of 11 buses is estimated to be $194,000 less than under the contract with Durham (I think I caught that verbal number correctly)fixed

"we were able to continue all of the services we were providing this year" save elementary tutors
summer school for next year not in budget "that's a temporary reduction" to be revisted next year

(there's FBRC slides here that I'll add)


Note from Allen that Senate includes some ELL implementation in their budget


Foley: reminds me of late 80's, early 90's..."but it reached the point in the late 80's and early 90's where we reached the breaking point"
"we've done what we can around the edges to save some money"
"all we're doing now is shuffling money...I find it really frustrating to be looking at a budget every year that does the same thing"
"from the point of view of what do as a community...push our reps to ask what is being done with the reconcilation of the Senate and House budget"
"it's not going to change things overnight, but it's going to stave off some disaster for us"
"long term play is still to change the foundation formula"
"the idea of legal action is right in front of us...often times it's the only way to get some equity in the community"
"we will keep pushing on our side...I think that is the only way"
notes 2% increase in health insurance
"what really frightens me is the loss of those tutors...I still think we need to look at that...the kind of support they provide at the elementary level...I do worry about that"
615 teachers...teachers really struggling at the elementary school level
need support K through 12...that's what we're pushing for with our dollars

McCullough: agree with Mr. Foley
appreciate what administration is able to do with the small amount
"can't say enough about how we need to look at the long term"
what teachers and services that students needs
"those tutors...it's going to be a great loss at the elementary level"
"it's amazing that we've been able to do what we do do with what we have"
"what a crisis this really is"

Comparetto: lack of adjustment counselors and guidance counselors; any increase?
Binienda: that was in the extra request from principals, but there is no increase
Comparetto: increase of million in policing?
Allen: not an increase, now at a million dollars in policing "second year of that level of funding"

Foley notes progress on funding over minimum required: work of mayor and city manager
"given limited dollars at city level...have really worked to find free cash here and there"
"give people real credit in support for our public schools"

And now the public comment
WPS parent
$1M to police in budget
"that's a million dollars that can be used for our students and teachers"...restorative justice, wellness programs
"things that have a proven record"
"caring mentors given spaces to build resiliance"
"research supports the fact that educating students in resortative justice" has positive impact
no evidence of cameras, security guards in preventing school violence
"why not invest in more youth workers"
vast disparities in student suspension rates
how will young people benefit from this?
police officers are not trained as social workers
"my children's safety and the children of those I've worked with" is deserved
"a million dollars spent is a million dollars spent on our young people"
Binienda: the million dollars does not come from Worcester Public Schools
"do believe in social justice in our schools"
"if the Senate version of the budget gets passed"
Foley: all support the idea of peer mediation, of trauma informed work in our schools
work at Claremont has been tremendous
young people "understand more about themselves"
Comparetto "if the city is providing this money for policing, couldn't we use that money for peer mediation, adjustment counselors?"
Foley: it becomes part of their equation under net school spending
Allen: the city is allowed to count the police officers' salaries towards net school spending
the city would have to give us a million dollars from another source

Ruth Rodriguez: why is it only majority children of color schools that have policing?
majority white schools have counselors
strong parent advisory council
"it really hurts our community when we see the way our children are being treated"
hear they don't have money in the budget for bilingual counselors, they don't have money for parent councils
"is the money that comes from Puerto Rico" going to go to the students; concerned that it goes in the general fund
It looks as though it went into a special revenue fund...
"I don't understand that we in this day and age are still struggling with services for English Language learners"

parent of young students and member of SURJ
question of the amount of money that is going towards policing in the city
"what I remember from looking at the item was maybe a doubling from 2014 to 2019 for the Worcester Police"
"I'm curious of what the impetius of that was"
psychological impact of police in school on youth of color
"we all know that the faculty and administration of the Worcester public schools don't necessarily reflect the diversity of" Worcester
while teachers are working their hearts out, doesn't mean that we wouldn't benefit from implict bias training
Binienda: "I really do like the police officers in the schools...I do believe they're necessary. I do believe they've established relationships with students."
"they make great relationships with all kids"
"the police officers have been very positive; I'll recommend that they still be in our schools"
"I think there's even more a need with what's going on in the world"
"not a budget item for us, but if it were, I'd still recommend the police stay in our schools"
"I think we still have some work to do, but we're going to keep our schools safe."

Nancy Caswell: systemwide music teacher, 2nd vice president of EAW, speaking as an individual
"human relationships are priceless...learning to read is priceless"
"the answer to fourth prep period for the elementary teachers is not, I believe, cutting the literacy tutors"
"I find myself advocating for a position that's not a union position, but it's a needed position"
"the testing is abominable"
"I think it's time that we as citizens...and as public servants stand up and say 'enough is enough, we need to put things back'"



Sunday, May 20, 2018

The most depressing thing I read this week

...is this passage from the Washington Post coverage of the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas:
His school board approved a plan in November to allow some school staff members to carry guns, joining more than 170 school districts in Texas that have made similar plans. But Santa Fe was still working on it, Norman said. People needed to be trained. Details needed to be worked out, such as a requirement that school guns fire only frangible bullets, which break into small pieces and are unlikely to pass through victims, as a way to limit the danger to innocent students.
We've lost our minds. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Worcester in FY19

Since the public hearing on the Worcester Public Schools' FY19 budget is Monday (7 pm, Durkin Administration Building), I thought we'd best take a look at what's in it.
Remember, there is also this presentation before School Committee on May 3 (the video of it is posted online here), which is an overview of the big shifts.
I think it's probably good to remember, first, where the money comes from:
This is from page 27. 

So of a close to $400M budget, about 1/4 of that is coming from local funds. As that state aid in blue is foundation aid--it fills the gap between what Worcester can afford and what the state calculates as "adequate"--you can also understand from this why Mayor Petty is talking to attorneys about suing the state over the need to update the foundation budget. If you're in Worcester (or, yes, Brockton, Chelsea, Springfield, New Bedford, Lowell...), there really isn't anything more important than this to us. And if you haven't asked your reps lately where this is, time to ask again. 
Do remember--and the budget notes the House portion of this, as it's based on House funding--that there have been bits of implementation: House budget does some bit of implementation of the health insurance, and the Senate goes even further by including ELL as an increment and a bump in the amount (thus the Senate aid for Worcester is up more than $3M over the House).
To get into the ongoing "to meet or not to meet" on Net School Spending, the aim of the city (again) is to go over (a refreshing change from many years). The projection is this (p. 87):
City Contribution: The total city contribution increases $2.5 million, representing the amount required to increase in addition to maintaining the funding level provided through one-time free cash revenue in FY18 to fund contractual increases and Recreation Worcester site administration charges. At this level of spending, the City is projected to be $4.0 million, or 1.1%, over the FY19 required spending amount.
(emphasis added)
...but how much is the state requiring the city to increase their contribution? Here's the House (not the Governor's) requirement in city contribution (the yellow highlight):

FY19 summary from the House budget for Worcester

...yeah, that says $2.5M. We're increasing by the amount required; that spending over NSS is resting on our laurels from prior years.
As you might remember from the presentation, that shakes out to this:
So we're up $6.5M over the prior year; that's good, right?
The trick, as you also might remember, is this:
...and a level service budget, for several reasons, isn't possible.

So what is Worcester Public Schools' administration proposing to the School Committee?
The first thing is this, which we need to keep in mind when we think about the budget balancing:
One time supplemental funding for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is part of what saves the budget.
That's a one time thing, and, while we hope the students get picked up in the next count (those who stay, in any case), we still aren't looking at a funding stream that's sustaining.

I'd recommend page 7 for a summary of much of what's changing. For staffing:
  • actual additions are 22 elementary "enrichment" teachers ("in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement with the Educational Association of Worcester" as the budget says; I still wonder about what's going on with this), 5 more ELL teachers, 5 sped teachers and 11 IAs, and two nurses
  • 17 elementary teachers positions are being traded for 18 secondary teacher positions (thus net staffing will go up, but the regular classroom positions in elementary is going down) 
In the teaching account itself (p. 165), that ends up looking like this: 
...from which I am gathering that those new positions are going to be itinerants? 
And by the way, the difference between FY18 and FY19 (the last two dollar amount columns above) of $3M is balanced out by this section on health insurance on p.210:
...a drop in FY19 spending of $3M compared to last year's adopted budget. Remember as well, that WPS health insurance went up by only 2% this year, which is basically unheard of.

A midyear change that we're seeing now is a Coordinator for the young adult program for the New Citizens Center (at Fanning) was added during this current year.
There's also an evening coordinator for Worcester Tech, which is intended, it appears to not only allow for the building to be more thoroughly used by the community, but to become a self-supporting position.
Another big change is the ongoing warning (to Durham?) is over: the district is self-running buses next year. The district is taking 11 buses off of Durham and running those buses, which will also run field trips and athletics. The district is also taking over 4 special ed routes that used to be outsourced. That means, in addition to drivers, the district already added an assistant transportation director, and is adding customer service, a dispatcher, and a mechanic. I know the intent is for this to eventually be better service (and possibly cheaper); what I can't find is net budgetary impact for FY19.
Clinical services are switching from being outsourced to being done in house, as part of the "improved services and accountability while often saving money" work that's been a several year project.
The district is switching from 7500 leased desktop computers to 11,000 Chromebooks. The important addition to this, from the description on p.126 of Erate: "complete the three-year E-rate project that brings dense building wide highspeed wireless to all of the district's schools." Otherwise, the Chromebooks become a somewhat expensive way of playing the jumping dinosaur game.
Also, if anyone besides me was wondering about leaving the Windows universe entirely, page 155 has this:
When the desktop lease expires in January 2019, the district will re-lease approximately 1,000 new desktop computers for administrative staff and computer labs necessary to teach Windows specific applications. In addition, this lease will include Microsoft licensing and other ancillary items.
The administration is proposing the reduction of a Testing and Evaluation Specialist; this is one of those that sounds like an idea that everyone loves until we realize we need the position. As the accountability cabinet position is being "restructured to the teaching division" (as noted on the line for administrative salaries, p.173), thus no longer reporting directly to the superintendent but to the deputy, this is not a budget that's keeping an eye on this ball. Frankly, it makes me nervous. Also, note this (p.190):
The Testing & Evaluation Specialist position was eliminated upon vacancy during the school year and converted to an electrician position for the installation and maintenance of school security systems.
The administration also is (about time!) increasing translation to something approaching actual spending. We're a majority First Language not English district; we absolutely should be prioritizing this (p.179).
Note only "approaching actual spending." Actual spending has been going up, as well. 
Something that isn't prioritized is student support, as the line (p.167)  that's adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, and psychologists is level service funded for next year.
I'm not really sure where to put this, but it's also pointed out that Elm Park is still a Level 4 school, still needs Level 4 services...but the grant has run out. That's over $400,000 the district has to find from...somewhere.
The biggest cut? 36 (all) the elementary literacy tutors are cut from this budget. That tutor cut should concern us. Tutors are the extra teachers working with students who are struggling with reading. Worcester may be keeping elementary classes largely close to the foundation budget level, but our kids need more support on this.

It's simply a cut; it would be good for us to ask what the district is going to do to support literacy.
Also, remember when that happens that unemployment (p.227) goes up, as the district has to pay back the unemployment collected from the state by such employees.

It also--I'd say "postpones"--summer school for next summer in not funding it. The hope is that funding will come through.
I hate this chart of student supplies funding, but I'm going to keep including it because it's important:
The kindergartners of FY06? They're seniors in FY19.
Also the facilities account appears to be increasing only due to trash disposal fees, HVAC being contracted out, and security costs, which means actual maintenance continues to be flatlined.
The district is hiring two painters (p.184) (which was a whole thing in FY12, but I'm betting most people don't remember that).
Do note the planned capital expense of $2.5M over 50 buildings for 26,000 students.
Slightly bizarre to me is the cut in the substitute line (p.171) below expected expenditure for this current year (and without narrative gloss):




...specifically...


...long term subs. No, I don't know why. I assume that it's trying to find money.

Apparently, the district picked up the administration of Recreation Worcester sites (at schools) last year, which I had missed. As that's now going from $27K to $100K (p.181), maybe someone should talk about that.

I also don't understand how this bit (p. 192) on crossing guards works:
No, not a lot of money...which makes it even odder?
...unless the amount they're being paid is being cut? But it doesn't say.

I'm going to flag workers' comp, only because it's one of the "I'm going to make a show of cutting it, and then you'll have to put it back during the year" things that particular members of the School Committee do (hey reporters: if someone does this sort of thing in the budget hearing, follow up over the year and watch the actual spending!). It's recommended to be increased in line with actual spending:
cutting below what actually needs to be spent isn't prudent...it's political showmanship


All the lines having to do with teacher recruiting--out of state travel, advertising, and such--are level funded. So is professional development.

Finally, if you just look at the line item, you might think the district isn't spending any more on policing:

If you've been following me for awhile, though, you might remember that not all of the spending on police is there; the vast majority of it is reported as a city contribution to education.
If you go all the way back to Appendix D, you can find the municipal net school spending (p. 415):

...which I'm sure you can't read, so let's zoom on section 9:
L-R, the columns are actual for FY15, FY16, FY17, adopted FY18, and budgeted FY19. 
So, yes, Worcester as a district--a district that's only increasing spending by what's required this year, that only is managing 1.1% over net school spending in a state where the average is 29.7%--is spending $1.1M on policing next year.
For all the reasons why that's a terrible idea, please see this post from 2015.

Again, the as-required-by-law public hearing is at 7 pm on Monday at the Durkin Administration Building.
And/or...you can always contact the Worcester School Committee.

Worcester planned facilities work 2018-19

I'll have a full post on the FY19 proposed Worcester Public Schools budget in a bit, but because I suspect barely anyone is going to see something on page 154 of a 400-plus page document...here's the planned capital improvement work for 2018-19:
There's a lot to observe here--for one thing, Worcester's fully funding boilers rather than going through MSBA, which is interesting--but do note that the full page lays out several years of plans.
Also, apparently Berkshire isn't covering all--or even most--of the work at Foley Stadium.

And yeah, that's $2.5M for a district with 50 buildings and 26,000 students.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Senate FY19 budget amendments

The Senate sorts their budget amendments by topic, so this is lots easier! Rather than go line by line, I'm going to arrange these by topic, because some of the hot topics have several amendments (and in many cases, several amendments by Senator Tarr); as always, these are only K-12 and only statewide amendments (not checking earmarks here):

Foundation budget:
...FBRC has been submitted as amendment 236 from Senator Tarr and 238 is to require it every five years
and 249 hands out $30M of any consolidated net surplus to FBRC implementation, Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund .

Per pupil minimum increase:
The House passed a $30/pupil minimum increase; the Senate Ways and Means budget proposes the same (do I need to remind you that these increases aren't progressive?).
  • 157 from Senator Tarr proposes $40/pupil
  • 158 from Senator Tarr proposes $50/pupil
  • 159 from Senator Tarr proposes $100/pupil
Charter schools:
  • 205 from Senator Jehlen would require that the fiscal impacts of charters on sending districts be considered in the granting of charters
  • 262 (same) would prevent the creation of charters without that
  • 311 from Senator O'Connor for $125M for charter school reimbursement (I believe that is full funding)
Special education:
  • 201 from Senator Tarr would use ACTUAL NUMBERS (average of the prior five years) for the foundation budget calculation
  • 223 from Senator Keenan would tie Ch.766 program tuition lines to the cost of inflation
  • 250 from Senator Tarr is a special education net services study
  • 297 from Senator Brownsberger adds $250K of extraordinary relief to the circuit breaker 

Regional transportation:
The Senate Ways and Means budget funds regional transportation reimbursement at $62.5M, when the House settled at $63.5M. Thus it's not suprising that there are several amendments:
  • 161 from Senator Tarr for $86M
  • 162 from Senator Tarr for $77.4M
  • 163 from Senator Tarr for $73M
  • 242 from Senator Gobi is for $71M
  • 237 from Senator Tarr is a regional schools and transportation study 
  • 294 from Senator Friedman would make recovery high schools regional schools for the purposes of transportation reimbursement 
  • 315 from Senator Tarr would create a study of both regional transit and regional transportation
The battle of line 7061-9400 
It is Senator Tarr moving to amend back to DESE's preferred $32M and including history for the MCAS line. You knew someone would. 
On the other hand, Senator O'Connor-Ives amends it to $13M in amendment 265

Rural schools:
Amendment 317 from Senator Hinds creates and amendment 318 funds rural school aid; adds $3M to the bottom line

The rest:
  • 160 from Senator Creighton would raise Mass Mentoring to $750K
  • 165 from Senator Tarr puts dyslexia into the MGL
  • 167 from Senator Creem requires the change in meal change policies that USDA already required be passed and published by back to school
  • 168 from Senator Montigny funds Best Buddies at $500K
  • 169 from Senator DiDomenico adds $600K for Safe and Supportive Schools
  • 176 from Senator Eldridge would bump adult ed $3.5M to $34.5M
  • 177 from Senator Eldridge would create a two generation education commission (parents and children both in school)
  • 178 from Senator Eldridge would add a social worker loan repayment program
  • 179 from Senator Crighton bumps the ASOST-Q Grant to $5.5M and puts in a pilot for community service sharing 
  • 182 from Senator deMacedo outlining which group homes need particular licensing (and I don't know enough about this to tell you more than that)
  • 183 from Senator Crighton for $1M for summer learning programs for low income students
  • 185 from Senator Rush bumps Reading Recovery $500K
  • 186 from Senator Eldridge establishes a water bottle refilling grant program for schools (I like this one!)
  • 190 from Senator Tarr wants MSBA to create "rules, regulations and guidelines for the inclusion of installation plans of an indoor active shooter gunshot detection and alerting system" for schools building with MSBA 
  • 202 from Senator Tarr adds $5M for the now-required substance abuse screening 
  • 213 from Senator Jehlen bumps the innovation school line from $100K to $200K; 243 from Senator Tarr does the same BUT ties the funds up with STEM, extended learning, and such
  • 214 from Senator Jehlen bumps the MCIEA innovative asssessment line from $200K to $400K
  • 216 from Senator Collins bumps the school to career line from $4M to $4.5M
  • 224 from Senator Boncore just straight adds a Reach Out and Read line for $1M, requiring a match
  • 239 from Senator Tarr  adds $100K for empowerment zone grants
  • 244 from Senator Tarr bumps the literacy lines about $150K
  • 246 from Senator Tarr creates an unfunded mandate task force
  • 247 from Senator Lewis adds $50,000 for a gifted and talented needs assessment at the state level
  • 260 from Senator Rush would require 20 minutes of recess
  • 276 from Senator Boncore (clearly at the direction of Stand for Children) would add $700K to the reading lines but make them competitive programs 
  • 295 from Senator Lesser would study the wait list of vocational schools (with a view to fulfilling them)
  • 296 from Senator Brownsberger adds $1M to METCO (bringing it to the House $22.1M) 
  • 302 from Senator Fattman adds a pothole account for midyear ELL students (in the law; no money added)
  • 303 from Senator Fattman would create a carbon monoxide detector fund for schools (no money)
  • 308 from Senator Tarr would phase in a required breakfast after the bell program for schools that are majority low income 
  • 316 from Senator Rodrigues bumps the AP line $300K to $2.8M

Board of Ed meets for May next week

The rest of the May meeting of the Board of Ed is next Tuesday at Marblehead High. The agenda is here. This is the annual Board of Ed field trip to the high school of their student rep, who this year is Hannah Trimarchi, a graduating senior (and to editorialize for a moment, she's been great!).
And good heavens: it starts at 10:30!
There is the usual round of comments from the Chair, the Commissioner, the Secretary, and the public.
Usually, they do a brief round on whatever the evening meeting was about, so there may be a short version of last night's meeting on accountability.
New Mission High in Boston is a Distinguished Title I school this year, and there will be a presentation.
Also, Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang is coming to give an update on the Dever School, for which he is the state's receiver.
There's a discussion of the revised draft history and social sciences framework.
This is of interest: there's a discussion on automated essay test scoring. I'd sum up the memo as "it's interesting, we're watching it, we're not there yet," but given Commissioner Riley's clear push for getting scores back to districts sooner (and it being cheaper), I'd suspect that this one isn't going away.
Ms. Trimarchi will give her end of year report from the State Student Advisory Council.
There is an update on the Senate Ways and Means budget (which oddly doesn't include the low income proposed shift in the memo).
There's also a proposed schedule of Board meetings (so you can mark your calendar ahead of time).
Yes, there will be a liveblog. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Board of Ed meets on Accountability

This is what would usually be next Monday's "special meeting," but is early due to Shavuot ending Monday at sundown. 
The livestream is here.
The memo is here. The presentation is as yet not posted. 
Posting as we go once it starts 
starting the meeting with six members...

Riley: know this process has been ongoing for awhile now, long before he was in position
"one more crack at understanding the process and where we're going here"

the Foundation Budget Review Commission bill moves into the House with a NEW NUMBER: S.2525

...because it was amended, it gets a new number...
Currently in the Committee on Rules. 

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, May 17

The agenda is posted here.
There are recognitions and such.
The report of the Superintendent is "An Overview of the Process for District Site Visits" and I don't know what that means.
Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports is meeting Monday afternoon and is reporting out (on gifted programs, ice hockey, Mandarin Chinese, summer programs, and the future teachers' program at Worcester State).
There will be (only one is posted) responses from administration on free drivers' ed and on Earth Day.
Miss McCullough is requesting a report on vocational programs not at Worcester Tech.
Mr. O'Connell wants to appropriate the funding the state has allocated for students evacuated due to Hurricane Maria; he's going to be told that they'll do that at the FY19 budget hearing, as that's been said several times. 

Mr. O'Connell (co-sponsored by five other members of the committee) has an item: "review the recommendations of the proposed Strategic Plan and assign them to appropriate Standing Committees of the School Committee, and/or to the Administration, for further analysis, consideration, discussion, and development." Two things: that puts the strategic plan on the agenda (important if you'd like to comment) and sets up a committee public process of review (which we haven't had so far).

Mr. O'Connell also wants to set up an English Learner Parent Advisory Council, per the LOOK bill; maybe we should have regulations first. Comments are due this Friday! 

There is a request for approval of a prior fiscal year payment of $1,496.50 for services rendered to a Special Education student who was placed in the Uxbridge Public Schools.

There is a request that the Committee accept donations of:
 - $4,000.00 from the WEDF for the Leap Program in collaboration with the Worcester Art Museum
- $250.00 from donors to Heard Street Discovery Academy for the purchase of a new classroom rug
- $1,000.00 from donors to a Doherty Memorial High School football player in memory of Thomas Walles
- $1,000.00 from Alliance Energy LLC to Grafton Street School
- $1,000.00 from a Foundation to the Goddard Scholars Academy for the purchase of a tuba for the their Band
- to Woodland Academy: - $122.31 from CEC Entertainment Inc. - $250.00 from the College of the Holy Cross
- $2,583.87 from the City of Worcester for being selected as a recipient of a Worcester Arts Council 2018 Award for their project “Making the Impossible Possible”
- to Tatnuck Magnet School: - $4.50 from Box Tops for Education - $85.00 from various donors - $300.00 from I.U.O.E Local No. 4 Social Action Committee - $500.00 from Country Bank

There is a request for approval of a High-Quality Instruction grant of $20,000 for working groups on curriculum.

There is an annoucement about Reading in our City week from Mr. Monfredo.
Mr. Comparetto has three related items on middle school sports: one on partnering with Recreation Worcester, and two on reports.

There is also (THIS IS IMPORTANT) a request that the committee accept a donation and approve an agreement with/from Berkshire Bank, successor to Commerce, of $500,000 for naming rights to Foley Stadium (extending the agreement) and replacing the turf field.

There is a non-specific posting around collective bargaining and/or litigation for executive session.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

When will we have the will? Updating the Commission for Latino Educational Excellence

Remember this?
Back in 2011, in response to a charge from then-Mayor Joe O'Brien  for a report on the conditions of education for Latino students in the Worcester Public Schools, the Mayor's Commission on Latino Educational Excellence released "Creating the Will: A Community Roadmap to Achieving Educational Excellence for Latino Students in Worcester" (which you can download here). I was among those on the Commission at the time; we were reconvened Friday for an update by Co-Chair Mary Jo Marion of the Latino Education Institute.

So why does this matter for Worcester?
Well, this is the Worcester Public Schools:
Disclosure: I actually looked for this in the FY19 budget. Oddly, it isn't there (?).
Demographic data from DESE District Profile from the October 1 report (2017)
The red area taking up nearly half the circle is our Latino students. Worcester also has the highest percentage of English learners in the state.
As Mayor Petty put it yesterday, the future of the city of Worcester depends on our Latino students.

The first thing that the update did was show us where we were at:

Okay, set aside 2017 MCAS which you can't just compare to the previous of anything: the gaps haven't closed, and in some cases have widened. There is nowhere that Latino students as a group are doing as well as all students.

One of the main things that stuck with me from the original report was, at the time, we were coming up from a full third of Latino students not completing high school in Worcester. So, how's that going?
This briefly came up yesterday:
trendline down on both, more steeply for Latino students, but not consistent over time.
Data from the DESE Profile for WPS
So, more and more of the kids are staying in school, and at least this year, Latino students are doing better than the city norm.

Both contining to head up, possibly with some gap closing recently
Data from the DESE Profile for WPS
Likewise, we have more kids graduating (this is the five year rate, so it only goes through 2016), and it looks as though the gap, at least recently, is shrinking between Latino students and all students.
At the same time, a five year 85.3% graduation rate means that more than 14%--in this case, 87 kids--aren't getting through high school in five years. And that's the most recent and best number.

Knowing of the gaps around college attendance and completion rates--a focus of the original report as well, as Worcester's economy is "eds and meds" as we say: the colleges and the hospitals--I checked in on our most recent numbers on that as well:

And clearly some other gaps that need attention here as well
And yes, Worcester has a well-regarded tech school--not everyone needs to go to college--but if you compare this to the top chart:
Yes, DESE has school profile pages as well,
though these you also can pull from the school budget pages of the FY19 WPS budget


This is much better, but it's not reflective of the district just yet.
What we don't yet have data on, but we're going to need to start collecting it, is access to upper level courses; the accountability system is going to want to know that all kids are taking such courses. They aren't--the only data I have here is eleven years as a WPS parent, but...--as yet.
The update, though, that really hit home for many of us, was this one:
This is LEI's slide, though the data is from DESE's district profile as well.

If you're a Latino student in Worcester, you have more than a one in ten chance of being disciplined.
A white student? That drops to one in eighteen.
If you're a Latino student, you're:

  •  more than twice as likely to be out-of-school suspended
  • nearly twice as likely to be in-school-suspended
  • more than twice as likely to be emergency removed 
...than your white peers.
Emergency removal, incidentally, isn't covered under Ch. 222 quite the same way, and is widely regarded as a work around for reporting.

As always, if you're going to come on my page and argue that Latino students misbehave more, you can take that perspective elsewhere. The school official reaction, at least as voiced by Mr. Monfredo, was that it really comes back to the family.
No, it comes back to systemic racism.
I should note here that this parallels the data released by the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights division two weeks ago, finding that disparities in student discipline continue to rise. You can find the Worcester discipline report here; it looks like this:
Upper left is enrollment; any variation between that and the other pie charts needs accounting. 
This hasn't been improving. This should horrify us. And the other thing that should horrify us is this:
Photo I took yesterday; I'd link to the article, but the T&G online archives don't go back that far.
The date on that article? 1972.
What were the parents asking for? Many of the same things we talked about yesterday: district leadership reflective of the district; coordination and conversation with parents; student supports through counselor and others; thorough translation services; bilingual education as a real and supported option; district attention to (2017 language here) implicit bias. 

As I pointed out in my post on the strategic plan, the demographics of the district don't appear to be driving any of the conversation as the district looks forward. The discipline disparities are called out in the plan as publicly proposed thus far, but the remainder of what it means to be a majority student-of-color district with a plurality of Latino students is not acknowledged.
And if we don't acknowledge it, we certainly can't plan for it.

Seven--or forty-six--years on, we still need to create the will.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Worcester's school budget is posted!

No more than this from me tonight, but the budget's up!
And yes, the strategic plan is already in it, “adopted” or not.


The budget hearing is Monday, May 21 at 7 pm at the Durkin Administration Building.

Senate Ways and Means budget

I posted my notes on reviewing this yesterday in a thread here

Moving along...

The Senate Ways and Means page is here; above, they've moved on to "Debate" because they are already taking amendments, which are due by noon Monday.
Just like we talked about in the House budget post, the Senate budget is divided into sections ('though not the same ones, and no, I don't know why they do that. Or why everything is PDFs you have to download). In the Senate, the Fiscal Note is "how we're going to pay for it," Appropriations is the line item spending, Local Aid is, yes, local aid (but with language on how it's being allocated!) , and Outside Sections is "here's some other things we'd like to do while we're doing the budget." For our purposes here, we actually need all of the last three!
I'll tell you up front that the outside sections have both a regional district foundation budget review commission AND a local contribution review commission.

Let's run through the line items first, and then loop back to the local aid and outside sections, both of which have implications on how the foundation budget is or will be calculated.
  • DESE's line is up, but it's earmarks (looking particularly like the Senate Ways and Means Chair district there).
  • METCO is down $1M from the House to $21.1M.
  • The organizations you'd look for for early literacy (Reading Recovery, Bay State Reading) are arranged a little differently, but still there (not cut as in Governor's budget).
  • School-to-career is up a bit (about $90K) to make it an even $4M.
  • The ELL line is about a million less than the House (for an odd $1,550,002...is that actual spending?) and the earmark for Gateways is gone.  
  • Institutional schools is the same $7.4M.
  • Adult ed is up a million and a half from the HW&M budget ($32.5M)
  • Regional school transportation is $62.5M (same as House W&M before amending)
  • The Senate puts in $250K for transportation for non-resident pupils to voke techs (with a proviso that more funding be requested as needed)
  • McKinney-Vento reimbursement down a million from the House budget (so $8M)
  • AP line down $300K from House
  • Breakfast the same, lunch strips the House earmark.
  • Ch.70 is up $35.6M (which we'll come back to!) overall
  • $15M for kids from Puerto Rico is there; that low income shift pothole from the House is not.
  • This is big: Full (they intend) funding of the circuit breaker of $318M (House had $300M)
  • Federal impact aid is back at $1.3M (wasn’t in the House at all)
  • The other big one on reimbursement shifts: $100M for charter school reimbursement (up from $90M in the House, up from flat funding in the Governor’s)
  • Innovation schools planning back in for $100K (this wasn't in the Governor or the House budget)
  • MCAS (the battle of line 7061-9400) is BACK DOWN to $27M and no mention of history; that's how the House had it, but it was amended back to the Governor's $35M and with language talking of history expansion, as the Department requested. This one may go to conference committee...
  • Possibly relatedly MCIEA has their line back: $200K; that was in neither the Governor nor House budget.
  • Targeted intervention line $6.7M (down $500K) from House
  • Extended learning time is the same ($13.9M)
  • Recovery high schools up $625K (to $3.1M)
  • After and out of school line is up $481K, but it’s earmarked (shout out to Recreation Worcester, $400K)
  • Safe and supportive schools is down $100K from the House (so $500K)
  • Yes, Mass Academy of Math and Science has their $1.4M
  • Youth build programs up $650K from House
  • Mass Mentoring up $275K from House
  • And regional bonus aid for $56,920, which wasn't in the House.
Okay, so what's up with Chapter 70? 
If you go to Section 3, the Local Aid section (which is where lots of local officials go first, because it's where the unrestricted local aid and Ch. 70 numbers are), you find the description of how Chapter 70 is going to work this year. The description of the funding system starts in the paragraph that opens "For fiscal year 2019, the foundation budget category"and ends (helpfully) with the words "The 'minimum aid increment' shall be equal to $30 multiplied by the district's foundation enrollment minus the foundation aid increment." And yes, that is just what you think it is: you just found the minimum per pupil aid increase! The Senate agrees with the House number of $30/pupil.
But there's lots else there: just up from the minimum per pupil is the 100% gap closing (which is a nice little "you don't have to try as hard" to the towns and cities); that boosts the Chapter 70 number for some districts, as it rejiggers the question of who pays for how much. And there's also the description of the employee benefit amounts in the foundation budget. Those numbers are the same as the House; it's being described because so far, that's the part of the foundation budget that they've been tweaking.

BUT THE SENATE DOES SOMETHING ELSE! They've made the ELL funding an increment over the base; in other words, your foundation budget (in the Senate budget) does NOT just count all your ELL students together and fund them at a certain amount each, as the House did. Your ELL students are sorted into their grade categories AND THEN THERE IS AN INCREMENT ON TOP OF THAT!
This does a couple of things: first, it's another foundation budget step (not on dollars, but on process!). Second, it does actually raise the amount of money per student that has ELL needs. Third (attention vokies!): this means vocational students who are also ELL get the ELL bump on top of the vocational rate!
What does that look like? In the House budget, the K-12 ELL rate was $9723 per pupil.
In the Senate, the total for an ELL student is $9941 for full-day K, $9970 for elementary, $9746 for middle, $10,860 for high, and $15,342 for vocational.
So yes, increased foundation budgets! And remember, on something like this, the big boost is going to be where there are larger concentrations of ELL students. And where is that? The same districts that are majority state funded. And that means the Chapter 70 goes up!

To give one example, Worcester's:
In the House $249,894,895
In the Senate $253,211,785
...an increase of $3.3M.
And this is, again, going to concentrate the increase on the districts that most need the boost and to some of the kids who most need the boost.

The outside section has some low income language in it. It adds the following as a new section 3B to MGL Chapter 70:
Section 3B. The department of elementary and secondary education shall make available to school districts a form to certify family income level for the purpose of calculating low-income enrollment. A school district may choose to have its low-income enrollment established through collection of the forms or through a direct certification system established by the executive office of health and human services, which may include the virtual gateway system.
What does that mean? It means that districts can choose to use direct certification (as we do now) OR that districts could use a form to certify family income. Essentially, it allows districts to choose how they count poor kids.
It adds:
Section 16 shall apply in fiscal year 2020. The department of elementary and secondary education shall provide school districts with the family income certification form described in section 3B of chapter 70 of the General Laws within a reasonable time prior to the low-income enrollment count process for the purposes of calculating chapter 70 aid in fiscal year 2020.
...so this isn't for this year but goes into effect next fiscal year (so the state would have to work on this during the coming year).
As I said earlier this week in my write-up on S.2506, the Senate is clearly hearing the district-level frustration around the kids who aren't being caught by direct certification and the subsequent unhappiness with finding more kids and DESE cutting the rates.
I think, honestly, that DESE's going to have a conniption over this idea.

Amendments are due Monday, May 14 at noon. The Senate takes up debate on Tuesday, May 22.

And as always if you have questions, please ask! 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Senate debates "An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century"

You can find the bill (and amendments) here.
This is totally not going to start for awhile. 

2pm: Senate is now in session. I'm going to need to leave at 3:30 at the latest, so this will not be wall to wall coverage, alas.

Senator Brady (of Brockton): "we couldn't have done this without our districts, without the advocacy of our districts, we couldn't do it without our local elected officials and our citizens"
introducing local elected officials and Brockton Superintendent Kathy Smith

Senator Chang-Diaz:
who is listing cuts from district after district 
"have become year after year effort"
citation from Supt. Boone when they held hearings 
"and then there's the work that wasn't cut because we weren't able to start it"
a single counselor spread across multiple schools "despite constant demand for trauma services and recovery from the last shooting"
"face every district across our Commonwealth and it has been so for decades"
some districts considering suing the Commonwealth
districts suing "inspired the 1993 Education Reform Act"
"we act on the legacy of these reforms"
from 2002 to now, real dollar spending has fallen 7%
students "are waiting on our courage"
"a bold righteous and radically American promise" when we passed the '93 act
"all means all"
"when we say 'liberty and justice for all,' all is supposed to mean all"
made a deal with districts "expectations matched with investment"
"since then we have acted like education is a static enterprise"
"our funding formula has not grown with us"
and districts are buckling under the pressure
"it has been a quarter century since the Legislature checked in with the math that undergirds our public school system"
"we've fallen into one of the deepest achievement gaps in the country"
now reviewing FBRC findings
"were endorsed unanimously by the Commission"
"the promise of quality education...runs to the very heart of who we are as a Commonwealth"
the education section is "the only place that 'cherish' appears in the Constitution"
"ask my colleagues to think of things that they cherish in their lives
"are we cherishing public education?"

Lewis: " have worked for many, many years for this day"
and intros students from Malden High
this issue motivated him to run for public service and go into the Legislature
letter came home that his daughter's school library would be closed
asked for parents to volunteer to keep the library open
"this was a real eyeopener for me"
thanks Chang-Diaz for her leadership, thanks Jehlen
education is the hallmark of Massachusetts
"Horace Mann recognized that Massachusetts" does not have natural resources...human capital is what we tapped into
"the oldest written Constitution still in use today...it's written in there...that's how deep it goes"
in the years since 2000, the foundation budget has not kept pace
the average school in the Commonwealth is now forced to spend 120% of their foundation budget (it's 129.7%)
"what that masks is our most disadvantaged districts" can't spend over the foundation budget, while the more well-resourced districts are spending well over that
"putting tremendous financial pressure on all of our schools"
"every year, they're struggling to balance their budgets...and every year, they're told by the City Council, the finance committee, 'Nope, you'll have to cut'"
"this is exactly the opposite of what we intended in the education reform act in 1993"
"that to me is a moral failing of the Commonwealth"
first state to set up a system so that every district gets what it needs: "the same high quality education" in every district
"hope that we will once again lead the nation"

Sen. Spilka: "hard for me to sit still when we're having a debate about changing the foundation funding formula"
why she first ran
organized others to lobby and advocate
changes that were made in '06 and '07 "adequacy was the issue that eluded us in those days"
"what does it really take, what does it need to include" for each district across the state
"and it has to get updated"
"look at circumstances across the state"

Sen. Jehlen:"state budget takes another step forward...it's not enough, but it's where we ought to go"
"make that obligation transparent every year"
public hearing where all will agree on way forward
minority leader has pointed out important obligations we have made
1. Funding 2. State control/oversight 3. Charter schools
"we have increased the demands...we have raised the number of charter schools...but we have not kept the grand bargain"
"most of the aid increases...have not been targeted to the most underresourced communities"
"in 2002, we stopped meeting our obligation to fund local education adequately"
"those underresourced districts are the ones we count as most underperforming"
districts under state control are getting less than the state average increase this year "Southbridge singled out as having to reduce their staff by 30 this year"
commitment before we write our budgets
"none of the Governor's budget have met" increase in revenue
"this step is our part of keeping our part of the grand bargain"

Sen. DiDomenico: great to stand before you today on this day for children
"most important title is 'Daddy'"
Everett has to choose between library, media, things they should do
"class sizes are exploding, and they need to do more with less"
"we have to do more, and this bill does just that"

Sen. Bruce Tarr
"this day of reckoning which is long overdue"
amendment after amendment offered by minority to this end
"and then, Mr. President, we forget about one of our commitments"
"and the gap began to grow, and grow, and grow"
"something which should have been done probably in 1996 but certainly by the year 2000"
"tasked this Commission with doing a lot of work because it had been so long" since anyone had considered the foundation budget
"I would argue that this should never happen again"
"and there is still a lot of work to be done on the foundation budget"
"those need to be addressed, too" listing circuit breaker, regional transportation, charter school reimbursement
"critical that we have a process and a schedule" to address the gap that has developed
"pass the bill, send it to the House, and urge them to pass it expeditiously as well"
"I suspect that this bill receive tremendous bipartisan support, and it should"
"creates a mechanism, it creates a process, it does not create resources"
"look at the divergance between what we should be doing and we have been doing"


I had to duck out at that point, but here are a few highlights from later coverage: 
Senator Tran chose to make his maiden speech on this bill, relating his own history as an immigrant from Vietnam who went to public schools in Clinton. He said that he has lived the American dream and now can assure that others will.

A number of amendments were withdrawn, most of which will, the Senators said, be put forward as budget amendments.

The one amendment that did pass unanimously was one from Senator Bruce Tarr, the Senate Minority leader, creating a reconsideration of the foundation budget via commission every five years.

The bill passed unanimously 38-0.

UPDATE: coverage from...
MassLive
The Sun Chronicle with the spot-on observation of its bipartisan nature
RadioBoston which you have to listen to
Commonwealth Magazine which does a nice job of linking it to the "Leading the Nation" celebration also happening this week