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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

FY2011 Budget Recommendation

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:November 13, 2009


This memo reflects the discussion and work of the Board's Budget Committee in the development of the FY2011 Board budget recommendation. Chair Banta and I are grateful to Gerald Chertavian, Tom Fortman, Jeff Howard, Ruth Kaplan, Beverly Holmes and Michael D'Ortenzio for their time and contributions to the development of this budget recommendation.

The consensus of the committee was to submit a budget recommendation that takes a different approach than previous years' Board budget recommendations. In the past, the Board's recommendation included a maintenance budget and an expansion budget. The maintenance budget reflected a ceiling amount established by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the expansion budget reflected the priorities of the Board, if additional revenues were available to support an increase in spending.

The committee this year concluded that submitting two alternative budget recommendations, as we have done in the past, is not a viable option for FY2011 for two reasons. First, the Administration has not yet set maintenance target amounts for the FY2011 budget, which means we do not have a dollar amount to use in our projections for our education budget recommendation. Further, the FY2011 projected revenue downturn makes the possibility of expanded spending unlikely.

Therefore, the committee supports the development of a set of guiding principles for FY2011 that the Board can present as its education budget recommendation. These principles focus on the agency's mission to target resources to high need districts and close proficiency gaps. The programs listed below have been identified as the core educational programs that are central to this mission.

In line with the deliberation of the Board's Budget Committee, I recommend that the FY2011 funding of the listed programs should be priorities to maintain and, if possible, increase.

  1. Programs that provide maximum statewide leverage to close proficiency gaps and promote and support student, school, and district success

    AccountProgramFY10 Budget after 9C Cuts
    7061-9400Student Assessment (MCAS)$25,267,854
    7061-9404Academic Support Services$9,294,804
    7061-0029Office of Educational Quality & Accountability$1,189,083
    7061-9408Targeted Assistance to Schools & Districts$6,874,476
    7010-0033Consolidated Literacy Program $4,175,489
    7027-1004P D for English Language Learners$397,937
    7061-9804P D for Mathematics$386,227
    7010-0005DESE Staffing & Facilities$13,168,887
    7061-9200DESE Information Technology$589,164
    7061-9604Educator Certification Program$1,519,343

    In addition, I recommend that the following programs be maintained.

  2. Programs that have federal maintenance of effort requirements

    AccountProgramFY10 Budget after 9C Cuts
    7061-0012SPED Circuit Breaker Program$133,119,160
    7035-0002Adult Learning Center Grants$28,085,096
    7053-1909School Lunch Mandated State Match$5,426,986

  3. School breakfast reimbursements and grants

    AccountProgramFY10 Budget after 9C Cuts
    7053-1925School Breakfast Program$4,177,632

    In the event of further reductions in FY2011, the committee recommended two program areas where possible savings could be generated while prioritizing funding to high need schools and districts:

    1. Kindergarten grants

      • Restructure the current grant awards to target high need districts, including those that meet the new accountability and assistance system levels 3 and 4.
      • Ensure that the Chapter 70 reimbursement policy promotes tuition-free full-day kindergarten and creates disincentives for eliminating existing full-day kindergarten programs.
    2. Chapter 70

      If cuts to Chapter 70 funding are necessary, we recommend that priority be given to maintaining foundation level spending in all districts, as this is an important element in meeting the Commonwealth's obligations under the Massachusetts Constitution, as defined by the Supreme Judicial Court in the 1993 McDuffy decision.

      Two possible ways to cut Chapter 70 funding without affecting foundation level spending are:

      • Restructure the hold harmless provisions, to limit the timeframe under which districts with declining enrollments receive funding based on previous, higher enrollment levels.
      • Lower the minimum state aid levels that ensure that even the wealthiest towns receive some state aid. This minimum level is currently set at 17.5% of foundation, but could be lowered, for example, to 15% or 12.5%.

I look forward to our discussion and the Board's vote at our November 17th meeting.

Last Updated: November 13, 2009
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