The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Recommended Budget Priorities for FY 2012

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
November 5, 2010

This memorandum reflects the discussion of the budget committee that took place on November 4 and presents recommended FY 2012 budget priorities for Board adoption.

Several touchstones frame the committee's FY 2012 budget recommendations:

Based on these touchstones, the Board's budget committee is recommending adoption of the following priorities:

Secure funding for local school districts: Two budget lines provide the bulk of state funding for local school districts - 7061-0008, Chapter 70 foundation aid, and 7061-0012, the special education "circuit breaker" reimbursement program. In the current year, foundation aid is supplemented by approximately $200 million in federal ARRA stimulus funds and the circuit breaker is supplemented by approximately $100 million in federal ARRA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding. Short of a new federal stimulus package, the federal funds are no longer available after the current (FY 2011) year.

Reinstate the MCAS history and social science test requirement: The Massachusetts Education Reform Law of 1993 requires students to meet state standards in history and social science as one component of the competency determination to earn a high school diploma. In February 2009 the Board voted to waive its competency determination regulation on the history and social science requirement for students in the classes of 2012 and 2013, due to budget constraints.

Increase funding for English language learner programs (account 7027-1004): English language learners (ELLs) are one of the few student groups that are growing in enrollment. More and more school districts are educating ELLs. As recommended by the Proficiency Gap Task Force, additional funding is needed to ensure that educators receive the training they need to work with ELLs and that programs are available to help students learn English. This line item was funded at $471,000 in FY09, and was reduced to $365,000 in FY11.

Consolidated literacy line item (account 7010-0033): In FY09 the three literacy line items were separate appropriations, totaling $6.67 million. In FY10 we recommended consolidating those items in order to provide greater flexibility in achieving statewide literacy goals. The items were consolidated in FY10, but the total was cut by nearly 36 percent to $4.2 million. In FY11 the line item was again split into the three FY09 literacy lines. I recommend reinstating the consolidation and requesting additional funding to rebuild our literacy efforts.

Ensure DESE capacity to close proficiency gaps and manage programs: A sound staffing infrastructure is essential to ensuring the Department's capacity to close proficiency gaps and manage for results. To this end, I am proposing three priorities:

Two additional considerations: There are two additional budgetary considerations that I am bringing to your attention. Each is an area that, if not sufficiently funded, has the potential to result in degradation of services: for students in the case of special education in institutional settings for students and for educators in the case of educator certification. In each case, potential revenue sources are identified.