School Committee Association raises concerns over less than adequate education funding in Governor’s proposed FY17 budget
Boston—The Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) responded to Governor Baker’s proposed FY17 budget with a sense of disappointment but with determination to work with our friends in the House and Senate as well as our municipal partners in the coming weeks for fair school budgeting and sound educational policy.
MASC President Jake Oliveira, a member of the Ludlow School Committee, noted that “MASC recognize the difficulty faced by Governor Baker in crafting a balanced FY 2017 budget, but we are disappointed that the important recommendations of the Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission were not considered in this budget. Further delaying the implementation of these recommendations continues to leave Chapter 70 inadequately funded for yet another year. Our schools are being short-changed, and this leads to an even greater toll on our communities. We are especially disappointed because the Chapter 70 Commission did incredible work to recommend some important funding reforms especially around special education and health insurance.”
The proposed FY 2017 budget contains a $72 million (1.6%) increase in Chapter 70 education aid over FY16, well below the roughly $100,000,000 increases allocated in recent years. “State aid to our cities and towns is critical as municipalities struggle to balance budgets and invest in education. Although unrestricted local aid was increased by 4.63%, a minimal 1.6% increase in education aid makes it hard for municipalities and districts to grapple with normal inflationary costs.” MASC will ask the Legislature to increase the funding for Chapter 70 at least to the levels of the recent budgets.
The Governor’s budget has level-funded the Special Education Circuit Breaker, which helps school districts to offset some of the costs associated with expensive special education placements. The students benefited by this account are the most vulnerable population that school districts serve. MASC will request funding from the Legislature to adequately fund the educational offerings that are mandated by state and federal law.
MASC is interested in the Governor’s proposal to support career vocational technical education, which includes a $75 million capital authorization to fund grants for equipment to expand technical education programs. This capital authorization is spread over 5 years. In addition, the budget contains $7.5 million in increased funding for school to career connecting activities.
“MASC has long advocated for additional funding for our Vocational Technical Schools and we look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature as the budget progresses through the Branches.”
“We will be working with our municipal partners, the Legislature, and other education associations to fully fund the regional school transportation account, which the Governor has level funded.”
Finally, the FY 2017 budget recommendations contain a $20 million increase to those school districts that send students to Charter Schools. “While we appreciate the increase it does not seem to fully fund this account and also makes one time changes to the current reimbursement formula which appears to only provide additional relief to a small number of districts.”
MASC is a non-profit organization that represents more than 2,100 Massachusetts school committee members in over 330 local and regional school districts throughout the commonwealth, providing its members a wide range of training programs, policy development and administrator search services, as well as legal and advocacy support.