Friday, February 22, 2019

Getting to Know: Congressional Committees

Committees play an integral role in the function of Congress overall and in the legislative process, certainly. Committee work is where bills are shaped and where members of Congress make decisions about a bill's future in that process. Especially now that Democrats are in the majority in the House for the 116th Congress, we're seeing how that function is changing from the previous one.

The introduction of bills, speeches, and votes are important and a fundamental understanding of committees is crucial for any successful advocate. For monitoring work in education at the federal level, I try to stay abreast of the work of the following committees:
If you're on twitter, you may be interested in subscribing to my ED & DC list, as individuals and groups included on it follow the work of the above Committees closely, as well as to provide context for the greater, holistic picture; their work can aid to improve our understanding and advocacy efforts. Are there additional Committees you think I should consider adding to the above? What groups and individuals could be added to the ED & DC list?
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Image credit: View from Senate Park of U.S. Capitol Dome (amid restoration), April 2016

Monday, February 18, 2019

Family Values

A granddaughter of a Pennsylvania factory worker and coal miner, and of immigrants from Armenia, Ireland, and Italy, I was raised in working and middle-class neighborhoods by parents who came from large, extended families. My parents were musicians and teachers and from them I learned persistence, the value of hard work, the importance of service, and standing up for what I believe in.

When we moved to Lexington, as a young family twenty-five years ago, it was through the Town's affordable housing program. My husband was born and raised here and still had deep roots in the community. We purchased our forever home five years later.

The loss of our family's health insurance (following the tech bubble bust in the early 2000s), proved to make me a stronger advocate. As a working mom with three young children I was beside myself with worry, yet I successfully negotiated coverage for our family from my employer, even though I wasn’t working full-time and my employer was reluctant to do so. I’ve learned to navigate a complex system of special education services and I know the heartbreaking loss of a loved one to opioid addiction.

It’s my story that motivates me to speak up for progressive change—before governmental bodies, elected officials, and other organizations that make decisions affecting children, families, and our communities. From revenue options to workers’ rights, paid family and medical leave to improved funding for public education and public transportation, I champion quality public services and policies people need to overcome the challenges they face everyday.

My most powerful experiences have come from working on local and state level issues. I was twice-elected to serve on Lexington's School Committee, including as Chair, during the worst recession of our lifetime. Those experiences taught me the value of earnest questions and a soft heart. I've served on the Leadership Team of the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts and as Governor Patrick's Parent Representative appointee to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Both have taught me what it takes to both advocate for progressive change and to navigate the body to forward that agenda on the state level.

We're in the first year of a new, two-year legislative session. State legislators worked quickly to file their bills. Activists urge them to sign-on to the bills that move us forward. We will continue to work to move the issues, speaking out at public hearings and lobby days, with the understanding that we are driven by the the values that shaped us, as well as those we choose to live by.

Photo credit: Personal family photo of great-grandfather Nubar, great-grandmother Rose Iskandarian, and grandfather Charles as a toddler, circa 1904.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Fund Our Future

Educator friends asked me to moderate two forums organized in Cambridge and Lexington in the past week for the Fund Our Future campaign. Fund Our Future is a new campaign to see public education in Massachusetts, from PreK-12 and higher education, funded at appropriate levels. Attendees are asked:
  • What if all public schools and districts had all of the Chapter 70 dollars they deserved? 
  • How do we access those dollars? 
The growing coalition seeks equity and fairness for every student and to end the systemic underfunding in Massachusetts gateway cities, urban districts, and communities of color.

Forums are being held in communities across the Commonwealth. Each is an opportunity to understand the state of funding public education in Massachusetts and to learn about options for revenue, plus two legislative proposals that attempt to fix the problem: PROMISE and CHERISH Acts.

The coalition is asking Governor Baker and the Legislature to invest, at minimum, $1.5 billion per year for public education, and to phase it in over five years: $1 billion for K-12 (in accordance with the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, FBRC, 2015) and $500 million for higher education (in accordance with the recommendations of the Higher Education Finance Commission, HEFC, 2014).

Colin Jones, Senior Policy Analyst at MassBudget and Policy Center (MassBudget), focuses on early and K-12 education policy and finance. He presented *the funding problem* at both of the forums I moderated, beginning with the background and history of Chapter 70—how we got where we are today, what the funding gap looks like between some gateway cities compared to wealthier suburbs—and concluding with some of MassBudget's research on options for progressive revenue. Colin  briefly addressed the Governor's budget proposal on this matter (which phases in fewer dollars over seven years. Some other relevant links are at the end of this post).

André Greene, member of the Somerville School Committee, shared the impact of underfunding from the school and district level. He stressed the need for equitable funding for all students. With better funding there could be more and better materials in classrooms, as well as smaller classrooms. André also noted the importance of adequate capital investments, including for vocational education, and the need for increased MSBA funding to speed up school replacements and renovations in communities.

Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville, formerly a member of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), noted that language in PROMISE is identical to FBRC's recommendations. She had us visualize the *three-legged stool* of education reform and how badly out of kilter things are in the 25+ years after enacting those reforms, absent critical Foundation Budget updates (which she has written about HERE). Senator Jehlen stressed urgency in providing the means for every city and town to  offer an adequate education to every child, and that we are not fulfilling our obligation to educate all students as mandated by the Massachusetts Constitution (Chapter V, Section II).

Superintendent of Lexington Public Schools, Dr. Julie Hackett, formerly of Taunton Public Schools, talked about the inequities that follow in classrooms, schools, and districts as a result of underfunding. Taunton is a gateway city with a higher number of students who are economically disadvantaged and/or are not native English speakers. Student needs are higher as a result and funding education via property taxes has real limits for the city's meeting their Net School Spending level (NSS), as opposed to Lexington which can (and does) contribute well above their NSS level. This comment of hers has stuck with me:
In Taunton, we spent most of our time figuring out how to fund our learning; in Lexington we spend our time learning.
Max Page, MTA Vice President, has been a professor of Architecture since 2001 at UMass/Amherst.  He shared the importance of improved PreK-12 funding, in addition to the legislative proposals, the PROMISE and CHERISH Acts. He explained that our PreK-12 schools lack funding necessary for students to be adequately prepared for their future and the PROMISE Act will help to change that. In higher education, he said the financial burden has shifted from the state to students; infusing the state budget with $574 million gets us to the 2001 level for higher education and that we need our legislators to fund our future with the CHERISH Act.

An Act Providing Rightful Opportunites and Meaningful Investment for Successful and Equitable Education, the PROMISE Act currently S.D.101 (and H.D.434), is a proposal offered by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. She is also former Senate Chair of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC, 2014-2015).

By way of brief review, FBRC's final report recommended changes to the *four pillars* of our outdated financing system (10/30/2015, Senate), specifically, in the areas of:
  • Health Insurance
  • Special Education
  • English Language Learners
  • Low Income Students
The report concluded:
"...the good work begun by the education reform act of 1993, and the educational progress made since, will be at risk so long as our school systems are fiscally strained by the ongoing failure to substantively reconsider the adequacy of the foundation budget..."
PROMISE acronym excellence notwithstanding, I note (again) the Senate has acted on FBRC each year since the report was delivered to the Legislature in October 2015. The House has not acted. (Conference Committee came close before *time ran out* last legislative session...but hey, let's be honest and recognize THAT decision was a choice by House leadership—and a poor one, too).

It's more accurate to say that time has run out for a generation's worth of students. How many children have had to *bide their time* while the Legislature has failed to adequately address Massachusetts' public education funding system? It's well past time for the Legislature to act.

Senator Jo Comerford has introduced An Act Committing to Higher Education Resources to Insure a Strong and Healthy Higher Education System, currently S.D.740. CHERISH builds on the previous work of the Higher Education Finance Commission (HEFC, 2013-2014), predating FBRC. HEFC report concluded:
"...the Commonwealth must reform antiquated financing systems that promote inequity and inefficiency..."
I've said before and it bears repeating: We all have a stake in the solid education of all our people, least of which are countless situations where our personal interests, safety, and well-being depend on others' competence, empathy, and compassion.

MassBudget reminds us: Anyone who has set foot in a public school, driven on a road or across a bridge, or gone to a public park has been touched by the state budget. What we fund in our state budget reflects our values. Government isn't some big blob *out there*, government is us! No essential services would be possible without the revenue to pay for it—and it's important that we consider whether the state is raising revenue adequately and fairly. If the state budget isn't funding the things we want at the levels necessary to close gaps and prepare students, why not?

Two things to understand about our revenue system: 1). It's inadequate and 2). It's unfair. Decisions made beginning twenty years ago have left us with a budget gap of about $4 billion. Every. Year.

The education funding system established in 1993 has never been updated. It's inadequate. It's structurally broken. In 2015, FBRC made the necessary recommendations which have only been acted upon by the Senate. Four years later, we may be seeing movement toward taking action in the Legislature and in the Executive Office.

Please ask yourself and others:
  • What if all schools and districts had all of the Chapter 70 dollars they deserve?
  • How do we pay for it?
  • What are one or two insights you have?
  • What's one action you're prepared to take?
    • By when?
    • Who will you share it with?
The biggest insight I had after reflecting on the information presented in Cambridge and Lexington is that more education on how to fund public education appropriately is necessary! This post represents then, one of my actions to spread the word to more people. Please share it.

It was pointed out at the Lexington forum: If your elected Rep/s have co-sponsored either PROMISE or CHERISH, thank them. Especially in the House, ask them to go further and advocate for the bills to House leadership, as well. It's not enough to co-sponsor these proposals. They will not move ahead without your Rep's advocacy!

Another thing you can do is to urge local elected School Committee, Select Boards/City Councils, and public college campuses in your region to pass a resolution in support. More details on that HERE.
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Image credit: Word cloud generated, Part D, "Conclusion and Next Steps", Foundation Budget Review Commission, 2015

View past issues of Senator Pat Jehlen's excellent newsletter and sign up for it HERE.

Massachusetts Association of School SuperintendentsProject Equity

Fair Share Amendment: S.D.1709 and H.D.3300 proposes a legislative amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to provide resources for education and transportation through an additional 4% surtax on incomes in excess of one million dollars.

MassBudget Resources:
Cross-posted on PDM

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Education-related Legislation Enacted in the 190th Session

In a Memorandum from Commissioner Riley to the Board, we received details about the education-related laws enacted in the last legislative session (190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). I'm posting them here; the Memo may be downloaded from the Department's website here: agenda item #8.
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The following laws relating to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) have been enacted during the 2017-2018 190th Legislative Session. The laws are listed in chronological order of enactment.


An Act relative to relative to the Mohawk Trail Regional School District and the Hawlemont School District

Effective: 06/30/17

This follow-up legislation to a 1993 law was filed to confirm the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s budget process and their right to approve future amendments in accordance with law and the terms of their agreement after the participating towns approved a change in their regional agreement.

An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids [LOOK Act]

Sections 47 to 54 shall take effect on 05/01/18

The new LOOK law establishes language acquisition programming flexibility for districts and oversight requirements for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Provides districts with flexibility in choosing a language acquisition program that best fits the needs of their English Learner (EL) population, while ensuring accountability through Department oversight.

Requires districts that intend to offer new programs for ELs to submit specific information for review by the Department and the district's parent advisory council. All programs must be based on research and best practices.

Directs the Department to notify a district and provide the corrective steps that a district must take before commencing a program if the Department finds that a proposed program fails to meet the applicable requirements.

Districts that intend to offer a new sheltered English immersion or alternative instructional English learner program in the next academic year must submit the required information to the Department and the district's parent advisory council by January 1 of the current academic year, which means new EL programs may open no earlier than the 2019-2020 school year.

Increased Input from Parents and Guardians

Requires districts that serve a significant population of ELs to create EL Parent Advisory Councils, made up of parents/guardians of ELs in the district.

Requires districts to provide notification to parents/guardians of ELs regarding various topics, including their right to choose a language acquisition program among those offered by the district.

Parents/guardians of ELs may select any language acquisition program offered by the district, provided that the program is appropriate for the age and grade level of the student.

Parents/guardians may request a transfer of the student to another language acquisition program available in the district, subject to approval by the superintendent.

Educator Qualifications
Requires the Department to establish licensure endorsements for various language acquisition program types (for example, Two-Way Immersion Programs).

Requires the Department to annually provide districts with reports of all educators who have current language acquisition program endorsements.

Requires districts to verify, prior to the beginning of each school year, that each educator in an English learner program is properly endorsed for that program.

Benchmarks, Guidelines and TemplatesRequires the Department to establish: (i) benchmarks for attaining English proficiency for ELs; (ii) guidelines to support districts in identifying ELs who do not meet benchmarks; and (iii) an EL success template for use by districts to assist ELs who are not meeting English proficiency benchmarks.

Requires districts to provide a copy of these materials from the Department to parents/guardians of ELs within the timeframes specified in the law.

Requires districts to adopt procedures to identify ELs who do not meet the English proficiency benchmarks and establish various processes relating to them.

Data and Reporting
Expands EL related reporting requirements for districts to the Department.

Establishes a data commission to study the collection and dissemination of data on ELs and to make recommendations on streamlining data reporting.

State Seal of Biliteracy
Directs the Board to establish the State Seal of Biliteracy. Districts may award the seal to students who meet the state criteria in attaining a high level of proficiency in English and at least one other language.
Pre-K English Learners
Expands the student census requirement for districts to include ELs who are in Pre-Kindergarten

An Act relative to standards of employee safety

Effective: 02/01/19

Chapter 44 of the Acts of 2018 has impact on school employees in Massachusetts, particularly in the context of lab safety in science classes. In brief, Chapter 44 requires that schools comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) standards of workplace safety by expanding the scope of a statute, G.L. c. 149, § 6½, that currently mandates OSHA compliance only for workplaces within the state government’s executive branch. School employees are already protected by a more general workplace safety statute, G.L. c. 149, § 6; however, § 6 is phrased in broad terms, while Chapter 44 provides a more concrete list of requirements that public sector employers must satisfy. 

Chapter 44 does not directly apply to students, although any requirements dealing with the physical work environment of teachers or other school staff would naturally affect them as well. Should they desire more direct guidance, schools will be able to request an inspection by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS).

An Act relative to criminal justice reform

Effective: 04/13/18; 07/12/18

The Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2018 included several sections that affect schools, districts, and students. The Act:

Establishes a childhood trauma task force to identify school-aged children who have experienced trauma, and to make recommendations on treatment services.Requires certain criteria in the process for school resource officer (SRO) selection.

Establishes standards for the memorandum of understanding between a district and public safety entities for SROs.

Removes potential classification of elementary and secondary students under age 18 as delinquent for disturbing the peace if the conduct occurs in a school building, on school grounds or during a school-related event.

An Act protecting the rights of custodial and other non-teaching employees of school districts

Effective: 10/31/18

Chapter 160 amends G.L. Chapter 71, Section 59B to require promotion and discipline of non-teaching employees to be conducted in accordance with any collective bargaining agreement.

An Act relative to economic development in the commonwealth

Effective: 08/03/18

The 2018 Economic Development bill includes:
a $75M appropriation for a competitive grant to be administered by the Executive Office of Education for the purchase and installation of equipment and facilities upgrades to expand career technical education.

The creation of the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund that can be accessed to promote the development and implementation of educational programs in Massachusetts public schools.

An Act relative to students with dyslexia

Effective: 01/16/19

Chapter 272 requires that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Department and Early Education and Care, issue guidelines to assist districts in developing screening procedures or protocols for students who demonstrate one or more potential indicators of a neurological learning disability. The requirement is subject to appropriation.

An Act relative to the financial condition of the pioneer valley regional school district

Effective: 11/08/18

Chapter 295 allows the Pioneer Valley Regional School District (PVSD) to borrow up to $2 million with approval by the school committee and the elementary and secondary education commissioner to mitigate budget deficits. 

The bill also requires the PVSD to contract a fiscal overseer and gives the commissioner authority to approve the appointment, allows the commissioner and DOR to recommend the establishment of a finance control board for the district, and defines parameters for fiscal actions of the PVSD throughout the borrowing period.

An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement

Effective: 02/06/19

On November 8, 2018, Governor Baker signed into lawChapter 296 of the Acts of 2018An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement. 

The law is the culmination of extensive efforts by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to ensure that Massachusetts students receive meaningful instruction and opportunities for engagement in civics education.

The Board’s Working Group on Civic Learning and Engagement, led by then Vice-Chair David Roach, presented their report to the Board on June 23, 2015. One of the recommendations was to “initiate the process to revise the 2003 History and Social Science Curriculum Framework and, in doing so, consider developments in the field that, if thoughtfully integrated into our existing frameworks, could enhance the effectiveness of civics instruction.” The Board and Department have carried out this charge, resulting in the revised History and Social Science curriculum framework that the Board approved in June 2018. The 2018 framework increases emphasis on civics at all grade levels, including a new grade 8 course on civics. These fundamental aspects are reflected in Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018.

Chapter 296 codifies many of the recommendations originally made by the Board and expands access to resources for the implementation of the new History and Social Science curriculum framework through the establishment of the Civics Project Trust Fund. The new law, effective February 6, 2019, includes the following provisions:

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, shall establish a non-partisan high school voter challenge.

Each school district shall include in its three-year improvement plan a description of its implementation of the new civics education requirements.

All public school students shall receive instruction in US history and social science, including civics.

The Department shall provide professional development opportunities for educators on the history and social science framework.

The Department shall develop tools aligned with the framework to support districts in implementing it, subject to sufficient resources in the Civics Project Trust Fund, for the 2020-2021 school year.

Each public school serving students in the eighth grade and each public high school shall provide not less than 1 student-led, non-partisan civics project for each student, consistent with the History and Social Science curriculum framework.

The Department shall establish a Commonwealth Civics Challenge with guidelines for districts that will be implemented in the 2022-2023 school year, subject to appropriation.

The Commissioner is to administer the Civics Project Trust Fund established in Section 1 of Chapter 296 to assist with the development, implementation, professional development, stakeholder engagement, and assessment of the History and Social Science framework. The Commissioner is also responsible for approval and oversight of the private donations made to the Fund to assure that no donation is accompanied by any condition of use.

One additional component of Chapter 296 pertains to a History and Social Science assessment. Section 7 states that any assessment the Board adopts not later than the 2021-2022 academic year that aligns with the History and Social Science framework and includes a “participatory component” will satisfy the requirement that districts provide a student-led civics project to students.

An Act relative to education collaboratives

Effective: April 2, 2019; April 2, 2020

Chapter 437 makes technical corrections to the collaborative law, as well as requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to create no more than six regional districts for collaboratives and allowing collaboratives to have access to grants in an effort to promote the use of educational collaboratives as providers of educational programs and services for districts.

An Act relative to financial literacy in schools

Effective: April 2, 2019

Chapter 438 establishes criteria for financial literacy standards should the Board choose to direct the Department to develop a separate curriculum framework. It also directs the Department to make resources available to districts to assist them in choosing materials and curriculum relative to personal financial literacy.

An Act relative to regional schools

Effective: April 2, 2019

Chapter 440 allows a regional school committee to designate any single member for the purpose of signing payroll warrants and accounts payable warrants with the requirement that that member share such records with the school committee at its next meeting.


Approved: 07/17/17

The General Appropriations Act (GAA) includes total state spending of $39.4 billion, representing a $652 million (1.7 percent), increase over FY2017 spending. This spending recommendation is based on a projected 3.4 percent increase in tax revenue for FY2018.

The Department’s appropriations total $5.324 billion, which represents an increase of $113.5 million (2.2 percent), over FY2017 spending. The General Appropriations Act affirms a commitment to fund education aid for our districts but reduces spending to a number of ESE accounts due to the lowered revenue forecast for FY2018. In signing the budget, the Governor vetoed spending of $5.6 million in our accounts, most of which represented legislative earmarks for specific local projects. These vetoes were subsequently overridden by the Legislature.

I. Education Local Aid & Reimbursements
Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008) is increased by $118.9M (2.6 percent) over FY2017. The increase is designed to allow for a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil over FY2017 for every school district and provides $25 million to begin addressing the increased costs of employee and retiree health care.

GAA funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) is increased by $4 million over FY2017. Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) has a $500,000 increase. The METCO grant program (7010-0012), and Charter School Tuition Reimbursements to Districts (7061-9010) are level funded. We estimate the latter will cover 100 percent reimbursement for the capital facility component of charter tuition ($893 per student) and 69.3 percent of first-year tuition increases.

Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation (7035-0007) and Transportation Reimbursement for Homeless Students (7035-0008) were reduced by $7,500 and $250,500, respectively, from FY2017 levels. 

Student Assessment
The General Appropriations Act funding for the Student Assessment account (7061-9400) was insufficient to meet our planned program spending for the upcoming school year. The Governor made a reserve draw to bring the account total to $31.1 million.

III. Departmental Grant & Targeted Support Programs
The majority of our grant and targeted support programs were either level funded or reduced. 

The General Appropriations Act reduces Targeted Assistance (7061-9408) by $183,955 from FY2017.

Connecting Activities (7027-0019) received an increase of $555,250 for both earmarks and additional grant funding.

Adult Basic Education (7035-0002) received an increase of $829,289 for both earmarks and additional grant funding.

The Expanded Learning Time Grant Program (7061-9412) was reduced by $197,685 from FY2017.

The After-School Grant Program (7061-9611) is funded at $3.5 million for both earmarks and additional grants.

The Consolidated Literacy Program (7010-0033) is $76,907 higher than FY2017 spending, while Bay State Reading received an increase of $206,167.

The Special Education in Institutional Settings account (7028-0031) received an increase of $4 million over FY2017 level.

The Safe and Supportive Schools Grant program (7061-9612) is funded at $500,000, a $101,400 increase over FY17.

The GAA transfers the WPI Schools of Excellence (7061-9624) account from the Department of Higher Education to ESE, funded at $1.4 million.

IV. ESE Administrative & Operational Resources

The General Appropriations Act reduces ESE’s administrative funding below our maintenance level for FY18. This reduced funding totals $756,764 in the following three accounts that fund agency staff.

7010-0005 Main Administration $256,096 
7028-0031 Special Education in Institutional Settings $233,061
7061-9200 Education Data Services $267,607

Outside sections that are of significance to the Department and to elementary and secondary schools:

Section 90. Designates the Secretary of Education as Chair of the Homeless Student Transportation Commission established by Chapter 133 of the Acts of 2017.

Section 126. Directs the Executive Office of Education to conduct a feasibility study on substituting a minimum number of instructional hours for the minimum number of days as required by the board of education. As part of the study, the Executive Office of Education shall determine cost savings associated with an instructional hours based system including, but not limited to, energy costs, administrative costs, and transportation costs.

Section 127. Directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct a feasibility study on rural school district aid.

FY2018 Supplemental Budget Approved: 02/16/18

Chapter 24 appropriated $15M for a reserve to provide extraordinary relief to school districts educating students who are residents of Puerto Rico or the United States Virgin Islands who have enrolled in their schools or in an educational entity to which they pay tuition to educate their students after October 2, 2017 due to the impact of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

FY2018 Supplemental Budget
Chapter 90 of the Acts of 2018

Approved: May 21, 2018
Chapter 90 appropriated $12.5M to line-item 7061-0012, the circuit breaker account, and $2.5M to line-item 7061-9010, the charter school tuition reimbursement to districts account.


FY2019 General Appropriations Act

Approved: (in part) 07/26/18

The FY2019 GAA provides total state spending of $41.834 billion. The law provides $5.585 billion in spending authority for the Department, most of which goes to cities, towns, and school districts through Chapter 70 and other forms of education aid and reimbursements. This total represents 13.3 percent of the total state budget and 4.1 percent growth over FY2018 spending, an increase of $124.4 million (2.3 percent) above the Governor’s FY2019 request (House 2).

The following summarizes the GAA education spending. More detail for all Department appropriations is available in our budget tracking spreadsheet, which the Board has received.

V. Education Aid & Reimbursements
Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008) is increased by $160.6 million (3.4 percent) over FY2018, including $12.5 million to provide transitional relief to districts related to the change in the reporting metric from low-income to economically disadvantaged. The increase in Chapter 70 maintains the long-standing commitment to foundation level spending in all districts; fully phases in (100 percent) effort reduction for high-effort communities; and provides a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil to all districts. The General Appropriations Act proposes making a structural change in the foundation budget by shifting the Limited English Proficient (LEP) rate to an LEP increment for each grade category. The law also addresses the rising cost of employee and retiree health insurance by including in foundation budgets 14.2 percent of the increase that the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommended in 2015; the House also recommended 14.2 percent and House 2 proposed 11 percent. Based on the GAA budget, districts are eligible to receive the higher of the amount determined by the GAA or the amount passed by the House; 43 districts receive the aid amount determined by the House. H.4800 also includes another $15 million in the Foundation Reserve “pothole” account (7061-0011) for districts serving Puerto Rican and USVI students displaced by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) is increased by $25.6 million over FY2018. Charter School Tuition District Reimbursements (7061-9010) is increased by $7 million over FY2018. Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) is increased by $7.4 million over FY2018. The METCO grant program (7010-0012) is increased by $1.5 million over FY2018. Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation (7035-0007) is level funded. Homeless Student Transportation Reimbursement (7035-0008) receives a $1 million increase over FY2018.

The General Appropriations Act added two new accounts to provide $1.5 million in additional aid to Rural Schools (7061-9813), as well as $0.5 million for a Summer Learning Grant program (7061-9814). 

VI. Literacy Accounts and English Language Acquisition 
The General Appropriations Act partially supported the Governor’s proposal and combined Bay State Reading with Consolidated Literacy under the 7010-0033 account but added earmark language to fund Reading Recovery and Bay State Reading at FY2018 levels. 

The English Language Acquisition Account (7027-1004) sees an increase of $1.64 M over FY2018, which will fund SEI training for vocational education educators, implement the provisions of the Language Opportunity for Our Kids (LOOK) Act, and provide support for middle and high school students deemed to be at risk of dropping out of school as a result of language barriers or challenges in English language acquisition. 

VII. Expansion of Career Technical Education (7027-0019) The General Appropriations Act gives an increase of $1.45 M to School-to-Career Connecting Activities over FY2018, and the account contains $0.5 M of earmarks. 

VIII. Program Changes
The General Appropriations Act increases the Adult Basic Education line item (7035-0002) by $3.7 million to reduce the waitlist of students for English language learning slots and to fund the new professional development system to provide training and support for ABE programs.
AP Math and Science Programs (7035-0035) received a $300,000 increase over FY2018.
The General Appropriations Act supports the Governor’s request to fund Student Assessment (7061-9400) at $32.1 million, which includes $1 M of new funding to support the implementation of the new history and social science standards and the development of new assessments in history and social science.
The General Appropriations Act funds Innovation Schools (7061-9011) at $35,000 above FY2018.
Assessment Consortium (7061-9401) is level funded. The Governor vetoed $0.2 M in funding the Conference Report had provided above FY2018.
7061-9408 Targeted Assistance has received an increase of $0.358 M above FY2018. 

The General Appropriations Act funds Teacher Licensure (7061-9601) at $1,867,453, an increase of $121,104 to cover the additional volume expected in a license renewal year.
The General Appropriations Act transfers the administration of the Recovery High School Program (7061-9607) from the Department of Public Health to DESE and increases the funding to $3.1 M.
After adjusting for $1.7M of earmarks, the 7061-9611 After-School Grant Program is funded at $2,576,923, which is $0.22 M higher than FY2018 net spending excluding earmarks.
The Safe and Supportive Schools Grant Program (7061-9612) has been increased by $250,000 above FY2018 in the GAA.
The General Appropriations Act adds $650,000 to the YouthBuild Programs line item (7061-9626) over FY2018.
Mentoring Matching Grants (7061-9634) has received an increase of $275,000 above FY2018.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention (7061-9812) is increased by $0.25 M of earmarks.
The General Appropriations Act has added a new line item for FY2019:
Educational Improvement Project Grants (7010-1192) at $1.625 M. This account represents a collection of legislative earmarks that fund specific local education needs.

In the GAA, The Department’s other accounts are either level funded or receive minor increases/decreases due to payroll changes or with the removal/addition of legislative earmarks.
An Act making appropriations for fiscal year 2018 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and projects
Chapter 273 of the Acts of 2018

The October 2018 supplemental budget to the FY2018 GAA appropriated:

$5M additional dollars in the Department’s targeted assistance line-item (7061-9408)
$7.5M to the Executive Office of Education for infrastructure safety grants
$7.5M to the Department for grants to districts that allow for contracts with licensed community based mental and behavioral service providers
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