A quick post as we head into the weekend, in light of statements reported in the Herald, the $98M in 9Cs, and Legislators sworn in to a new legislative session this week.
The genius of the original foundation budget was the commitment by so many to address the education challenges facing Massachusetts (yes, they were motivated, due to the decision of the SJC╹). Not surprisingly, new challenges have arisen in the 20+ years since: Too much funding today is being siphoned away from the people and things our students need ─ teachers and classroom materials.
A generation of students had gone through our public schools before a systemic analysis had been done of what it costs to educate a child from pre-school through high school. We've had high academic expectations, but an outdated financial plan. The state legislature sought to amend that by establishing the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) and charging it to "...review the way foundation budgets are calculated and to make recommendations for potential changes in those calculations..."
What's at stake is that the present system is about $2B short because of some basic flaws built into the foundation budget assumptions (i.e., health insurance costs, special education costs, and the programs serving multi-lingual and economically disadvantaged students). FBRC findings came with the expectation that they'd be addressed by the governor in his FY17 Budget. They weren't. (As has been noted elsewhere, the governor's 9Cs were part of his FY17 budget that the Legislature ultimately restored when they approved the FY17 Final Budget).
And, while the FBRC was commissioned by the Legislature for the Legislature, the Senate was the only chamber to champion FBRC's recommendations, enfolding them in the RISE Act.
The last legislative session may serve as a preamble for what's to come. It remains to be seen what Legislators will do to advocate for some progress with respect to FBRC recommendations this session. And many of us are eager to find out.
* Previous posts pertaining to FBRC, in whole or in part, may be found on this blog HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. FBRC recommendations are central to everything the Board does.