These funding problems affect all districts but are most acute in lower-income communities that rarely have the resources to make up for shortfalls the way wealthier communities can. When state aid and local contributions do not cover actual costs, districts are not able to hire the number of teachers called for in the formula or provide adequate resources for their students’ needs.
As a result, the Commonwealth’s lowest-wealth districts spend 32 percent less on regular classroom teachers than dictated in the foundation budget, the state’s definition of adequate spending. Springfield, one of our lowest-income districts, was only able to spend $12,800 per pupil in 2017, despite having significant student needs. This translates to larger class sizes and fewer specialties like advanced coursework and the arts.
Meanwhile, the highest-income districts can make up for the flaws in the state formula by spending 48 percent more than their foundation budgets using local sources. In FY 2017, Brookline, among the wealthiest communities, spent 82 percent above its foundation budget, at nearly $17,500 per student.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
MassBudget weighs in...
Today's op-ed in Commonwealth Magazine gives numbers to support the need for action on the foundation budget: