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House Ways & Means FY16 Budget Recommendations

Members of the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
April 15, 2015


Today the House Ways & Means Committee (HWM) released its recommendations for the upcoming FY16 state budget year. HWM recommends total state spending of $37.9 billion, representing a $1 billion (2.8%), increase over FY15 spending. A central theme in the HWM proposal is financial support for cities and towns.

The Department's recommended appropriations total $5.076 billion, which represents an increase of $113.7 million (2.3%), over FY15 spending. HWM affirms a commitment to fund education aid for our districts, but does not include the consolidated grant funding initiatives proposed by the Governor in House 1. Instead, the HWM approach is consistent with our current chart of accounts, save differences in funding levels.

The following summarizes HWM's education recommendations by program area.

I. Education Local Aid & Reimbursements

Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008) is increased by $108.2M (2.5%) over FY15. The increase is designed to provide a minimum aid increase for each district of $25 per student, and continuing progress to achieving equity in high-effort communities. Funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) is increase by $8.3 million over FY15. Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) is increased by $5 million over FY15. Transportation reimbursement for Homeless Students (7035-0008) is also $1M over FY15. The METCO grant program (7010-0012) is funded $1.2 million above FY15 spending. All other district reimbursement accounts are level funded at FY15 spending levels, including: District Reimbursements for Charter School Tuitions (7061-9010) is level funded at its FY15 level of $76.9 million and funding for the Kindergarten Grant Program (7030-1002) is funded at the FY15 level of $18.6 million.

II. Assistance to Low Performing Schools & Districts

HWM did not support the Governor's recommendation for a consolidated approach to DESE's investment and work with districts and schools that are at risk of being or who have been determined to be underperforming. Instead, HWM has continued our traditional Targeted Assistance account (7061-9408), level funded at its FY15 level. Additionally, all the other accounts that had been consolidated under the Governor's Partnership Schools Network are returned to their FY15 structure and received either level funding or reduced funding levels. There is no increased investment for this program area.

III. Investment in Board Priority Areas

HWM did not support the House 1 recommendations for the Department's work in a number of priority areas, except for our work supporting instruction for ELL students.

Student Assessment

HWM does not provide the funding needed to support the Board's decision timeline for PARCC implementation. The appropriation level of $23.9 million in 7061-9400 is $5 million less than both the account's FY15 funding level and the Governor's House 1 budget.

English Language Acquisition

HWM funding of $2.8 million for 7027-1004 provides the funding necessary to deliver the fourth year of the RETELL initiative in FY16. DESE will have trained approximately 34,000 educators to support the instructional needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) by the end of FY16.

Educator Development & Effectiveness

HWM did not support the Governor's recommended establishment of a new appropriation, 7061-2200, at $500,000 to support the Department's leadership in the work of promoting educator development & effectiveness. This work to date has been entirely supported with federal grant funding.

Student Safety & Support

HWM did not support the Governor's recommended establishment of a new appropriation, 7061- not increase the spending ceiling by $200,000 in the Educator Licensure account (7061-9601) as recommended by the Governor, to fund the increased demands being placed on DESE's Office of Professional Licensure & Investigation.

IV. Aligned Programs / Coordinated Grants

HWM did not support the Governor's recommendation to align a number of individual grant programs with the goals of the Governor's Partnership Schools Network initiative. The proposed accounts for alignment received lower funding from HWM, or in one case level funding.

7027-0091School-to-Work Connecting Activities - funded $1.7 million below FY15
7035-0035AP Math & Science Programs - level funded at FY15 level
7061-9404Supports to Close the Achievement Gap
7061-9412Expanded Learning Time Grants - funded $1 million below FY15
7061-9611After-School Grant Programs - funded $.2 million below FY15

V. ESE Administrative Resources

HWM recommended either level funding or slightly reduced funding to accounts that fund the Department's personnel and program delivery.

VI. Program Changes

House 1 eliminates spending for seven accounts previously funded in FY15.

7061-0928Financial Literacy Grants
7061-9011Innovation Schools
7061-9406College and Career Readiness
7061-9614Alternative Education
7061-9804Mathematics Professional Development
7061-9810Regional Bonus Aid
7061-9811Creative Challenge Index

Funding for YouthBuild and mentoring grant programs received small increases in the HWM proposal. Funding for adult education was reduced by $.5 million from its FY15 level.

The attached chart summarizes the HWM FY16 budget recommendations in comparison to our current and prior years' appropriation history as well as to the Governor's House 1 budget proposal.

The HWM recommendations will be debated in the full House starting on April 27, 2015.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. We will discuss the budget at our April 28th Board meeting.


Download PDF Document  Download Excel Document
Analysis of the FY16 House Ways & Means Budget

Last Updated: April 23, 2015
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