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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Recommended FY14 State Budget Priorities

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
November 26, 2012


This memorandum reflects the discussions of the Board's Budget Committee and presents recommended FY14 budget priorities for discussion and adoption by the Board.

These recommendations are being presented with the acknowledgement of the difficult fiscal context facing the Department and the Commonwealth. The State continues to experience a pattern of underperforming revenue growth. In addition, the uncertainty of federal budget reductions have helped shape the Budget Committee's approach to its FY14 priorities. While there are many worthy Department programs and needs, in recognition of the fiscal challenges facing the Commonwealth, the Committee restricted its recommendations to a small number of priority areas for additional funding in FY14.

The Budget Committee has met with the Commissioner and Department staff, and developed the following funding priorities to be advanced with the Governor and Legislature as the state budget for FY14 is developed. The recommendations build upon the Board's priorities from prior fiscal years and the important work being carried out by the Department.

Overall Goal

Secure targeted increased funding to expand the Department's efforts to close the proficiency gap; ensure that students graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and citizenship; and maintain the Commonwealth's position as a leader in public education.

This agenda is accomplished through the following four core strategies:

  • Strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment;
  • Improving educator effectiveness;
  • Turning around the lowest performing districts and schools;
  • Using data and technology to support student performance.

The last two state budgets (FY12 & FY13) have shown a renewed commitment from state policymakers to invest in the public K-12 education system. We should build upon this commitment in the development of the Board's FY14 priorities. The need for increased state support in the next few fiscal years is critical as the Department and our districts face potential reductions from federal budget actions, as well the end of the Race to the Top Grant program during FY15.

Priority Funding Areas

  1. Continued Financial Support for Local Districts.
    • Ch. 70 - Foundation Aid
    • SPED Circuit Breaker
    • School Transportation
    • Regional
    • Homeless children
    • Non-resident vocational students

  2. Professional Development for English Language Learners Instruction
    • The Department is currently in the first year of a four-year commitment for training for teachers of academic content to English Language Learners in the Sheltered English Immersion program. FY14 marks the second year of the training initiative and an additional $2.0M is needed to train an additional 7,900 teachers, bringing the total appropriation to approximately $3.2M.

  3. Increased Assistance for District and School Turnaround
    • Targeted Assistance to Schools and Districts requires increased funding of about $2.4M, increasing the total appropriation to $10.1M, for the following purposes:
    • District and School Assistance Centers (DSACs) Resources - $0.56M in additional funding is needed to increase DSAC capacity to support high need schools and districts.
    • Grant Funding for Support to Underperforming Districts - $1.875M in additional funding will increase the Department's ability to provide services to those districts and schools in the most need of state interventions to support district, school and student improvement. Funding would be used to provide educational consulting expertise to assist with turnaround activities.
    • District Accountability Reviews - $2.4M in additional funding will provide the Department with the staff and consulting resources to perform an additional 20 district reviews. This will bring this appropriation to approximately $3.3M.

  4. Charter School Program Administration
    • The number of approved charter schools has continued to increase each year, rising from 61 in 2008 - 2009 to 77 in the current 2012 - 2013 year and, based upon the charters authorized in February 2012, 80 in the 2013 - 2014 school year. We expect the number of charter schools to continue to grow in the next few years. Given the increasing oversight and service demand, dedicated funding of $1.0M will provide the means to ensure continued high-quality administration of the Charter School Program.

  5. Eliminate Personnel Restrictions in Program Accounts
    • The Department continues to be constrained by limited funding for programmatic delivery due to the prohibition of funding staff from a number of its state appropriation accounts. The Budget Committee recommends that the Board support the request to allow the Department to fund certain program staff from specific program accounts through a change in the legislative language. These accounts include:
      • Kindergarten Grants
      • Adult Basic Education
      • Achievement Gap Closure
      • Expanded Learning Time

The Budget Committee looks forward to presenting its recommendations to the full Board at the November 27, 2012 meeting.

Last Updated: November 30, 2012
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