FY18: BESE Budget Committee Recommendations*

The Board unanimously approved the following Budget Committee Recommendations at its Regular Meeting Tuesday, November 29, 2016. The budget that the Board approved has been sent by Memo to the Secretary of Education; work is underway to develop the Governor's House 1 recommendations, to be announced in January.

Education Aid Accounts
The Board recommends the Department's education aid accounts be funded at the highest level possible based on available revenues for FY18. The major focus for increase should be the Chapter 70 -- Education Aid and Special Education Circuit Breaker accounts. The Board recommends that any additional funding made available in Ch. 70 after the state's contribution to foundation aid is met, be directed to districts with identified achievement gaps in student learning to support reforms that have evidence of narrowing achievement gaps. The Board recommends the Commissioner work with the Secretary to review other Chapter 70 increase factors including formula equity reform, minimum aid, and recommendations from the Foundation Budget Review Commission.

The Board also recommends that funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account be at a level to fund as close to the maximum 75% reimbursement level as state revenue permits. This increase would acknowledge the increasing pressure of high-cost special education services funded in our districts.

Targeted Assistance - Achievement Gap Mitigation Account
The Board recommends the Department have a new account designed to fund reform/targeted assistance initiatives in our schools and districts to invest in educational practice areas that can leverage improved student learning. The account would be used to support best practices focused on providing growth and achievement for all our students. This account would fund work based on the Department's knowledge of those districts where student achievement and learning lags and where investment can be leverage[d] with local and third party resources to support gap closure.

The account would be focus[ed] on areas to directly improve student learning. These would include:
  • Early Literacy Programming;
  • Curriculum & Instruction Initiatives, including arts, humanities, history & social studies;
  • Time & Learning Initiatives (including summer, extended day and afterschool instruction time).

Next Generation Assessment
The Board recommends that the second school year of the Commonwealth's new assessment program be funded at a level to support the direction approved by the Board in November 2015. Funding would include the continued development of the ELA, Math & Science assessment in grades 3-8, as well as the development of the new grade 10 test to be first delivered to the class of 2021 in the spring of 2019.

Civics Education
The Board recommends that the Department prioritize that all students experience a robust civics education program in their K-12 instruction. The Board supports the work of the Civic Learning and Engagement Task Force and looks to build upon the recommendations in the development of a strategic plan to promote civic learning.

Interagency Resource Coordination
The Board recommends the Department work with the Secretary's Office and with other MA executive branch agencies, through interagency agreements and intergovernmental service fund transfers, to address students' non-academic educational needs. The increased coordination of the Education secretariat with Health & Human Services and Housing secretariats could identify additional resources that could be coordinated to assist students and families with services designed to improve a student's ability to be successful in the classroom on a daily basis. For example, resources within Executive Office of Health & Human Services agencies could be identified to provide critical social, emotional, and health supports to improve students' learning ability.

*See this post for discussion of the development of the Board's FY18 Budget priorities.