Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September Board of Ed: Foundation budget review commission

backup is here

Wulfson: thought it would be useful to give you a quick refresher course on what the foundation budget is
Massachusetts one of first states to adopt such a budgetary plan
"one of the key measures of if we are meeting our constitutional obligation" to provide an education for all students
rises to the top of the list as it is a constitutional obligation
FY19: total foundation budget a little under $11B; a little over $11K per student
funded through a combination of state aid and required local contribution
excludes several significant items: transportation, construction, extraordinary sped costs, pensions
those run about $2.5B on top of foundation budget
pretty much untouched from its initial adoption in 1993
2015 commission established to review assumptions in foundation budget
"despite a lot of effort by staff in legislature and the conference committee...with a lot of support from our school finance office here...a major rewrite is quite an endeavor"

important to note "despite news coverage to the contrary, none of those discussions had anything to do with the current fiscal year"
fiscal year '20 budget isn't over: "it's just starting"

many districts choosing to spend over foundation
others held harmless well above the current foundation budget
an increase in the foundation budget for a particular district does not translate into a dollar-for-dollar increase in state aid and "in some, it may not translate to any increase in state aid"

Wulfson notes that "what tools and levels are we thinking about that will translate increased spending to increased student achievement" was discussed at the end of the Commission ('though he fails to note that those who wanted such things tied LOST)

Craven: important for Board to look at four issues and look at how their weighted
"the only one here that could be translated into achievement gap closure" is poverty
that...isn't true at all
"as a veteran of minimum aid"
Peyser: the districts that benefit are the ones that are spending right at that level" of foundation
"even if you're increasing a factor that effects all districts equally" in terms of state aid it leans most to districts that most lack local capacity
Wulfson: fiscal distress is two catagories: Gateways, where enrollment is growing; and rural districts where districts are tiny and shrinking
Craven: would preferred something that's more targeted
"I don't know how it helps achieve our goals over time" with the other issues
because...it isn't about that?
Peyser: how do we ensure those funds are being used to have a larger impact on student outcomes?
potential of thinking about other parts of the state finance system
Sagan: budget as a process that happens "to us"
Craven: generally think that anything that puts money into the system is a good thing, I do think that the Legislature will run out of money on this at some point, "that's a balancing act, as well"
Riley: unintended consequences: if the average municipality spends 20% above foundation, in theory districts can divert money to police and fire and stay above foundation
McKenna: sometimes I wonder if we're in a bubble
"there's highly documented data on how to attact the achievement gap...but that budget doesn't target those things"
high quality early childhood, full day kindergarten, summer learning
"we're not going to change the achievement gap until we target them"
Wulfson: money put into for programs mentioned are being put in for health insurance and special education which have to be paid for
Moriarty asks if the Medicaid reimbursement still goes back to the general fund
Wulfson: you're correct, there's no legal requirement that it go back

Bell: spending plan for this current year (FY19)
review process for administration and finance
implementation for spending this year
working with Commissioner for FY20 ask
no withholding, no vetoes, implementing budget as Legislature passed
have money for implementation for history/civics standards and assessment
FY19 just awaiting final approval for ANF on spending plan
"from a budgeting perspective, we're onto FY20"
federal side: "despite all of the last few years...Congress has pretty much continued to fund federal education programs at a baseline program level"

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