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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Foundation Budget Review Commission

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
April 15, 2016

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At the April 26 Board meeting, we will continue our discussion on the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. The commission issued its final report in October 2015, and its recommendations are currently under consideration by the Legislature.

The foundation budget is a formula that annually defines, for each school district in the state, the minimum funding needed to provide an adequate education. It is one of the major factors in the calculation of Chapter 70 state aid. The foundation budget concept was first enacted as part of the 1993 education reform law. Apart from some minor tweaks and annual adjustments for inflation, the components of the foundation budget have remained unchanged since then. The commission was charged by the Legislature with reviewing and updating the formula to reflect changes in educational practice and costs of services in the intervening decades. A copy of the commission's final report is enclosed.

As background for this discussion, I am also enclosing a 2013 report on the status of the public education financing system in Massachusetts, which was prepared by the Department's school finance staff at the request of the Legislature. The Department report provides some useful background and context for the foundation budget debate. It also includes some provocative data on the relationship, or lack thereof, between student achievement and spending levels. As I noted in my introduction to the report:

[D]istricts with similar levels of expenditures are achieving widely disparate student outcomes. More spending by itself does not guarantee a better education for the Commonwealth's students. While funding is clearly an important factor in how schools perform, it is less easy to discern from available data exactly how districts are utilizing their resources to positively impact student performance. The review of exemplary schools indicates that factors other than funding - such as instructional leadership, savvy deployment of educator talent, school based autonomies, student and staff scheduling and use of time, using data to inform instruction, and targeted student interventions — have the greatest potential to influence student educational attainment.

As we revisit the question of how much money our schools need, I continue to believe that we also must do better in disseminating best practices to ensure that the funds are used effectively.

Joining us for this discussion will be two current members and one former member of the Department's school finance office, Roger Hatch, Melissa King, and Jeff Wulfson.


Enclosures:

Download PDF Document  Download Powerpoint Presentation
Chapter 70 Updates Presentation to BESE, April 2016
View External Link
Foundation Budget Review Commission Final Report, October 2015
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Report on the Status of the Public Education Financing System in Massachusetts, July 2013


Last Updated: April 19, 2016
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