The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

House Ways & Means FY20 Budget Proposal

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
April 11, 2019

On April 10, the House Ways & Means Committee (HWM), released its FY20 budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year. HWM recommends total state spending of $42.7 billion representing a 1.5 percent increase over FY20 spending. HWM has prioritized spending increases for key areas, including municipal aid (both education and unrestricted aid), access and quality for early education and care programs, housing and homeless, MassHealth program improvements, as well as substance misuse services and treatment.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommended appropriations total $5.85 billion, which represents an increase of $253.2 million (4.5%), over FY19 spending. HWM prioritizes increase in education aid and reimbursement accounts; with increases of $218M in Chapter 70 aid, $23M in Charter Tuition District Reimbursements, and $9.5M in Circuit Breaker. HWM also proposes a new district aid account of $16.5M to address the academic needs of low-income students.

The following summarizes the Governor's education recommendations by program area.

I. Education Local Aid & Reimbursements

Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008), is increased by $218M (4.4%) over FY19 to $5.125B. The HWM FY20 proposal implements foundation budget rate changes, above inflation, in the areas identified by the Foundation Budget Review Commission based on the goal rates proposed in H.70 (the school finance bill that the Governor has filed). For benefits and fixed charges, HWM proposes to close one-sixth of the gap toward the H.70 goal rates, compared to one-seventh proposed in House 1 (the Governor's budget proposal). HWM also closes one-sixth of the gap toward the H.70 goal rates for economically disadvantaged deciles 6–10, compared to one-seventh in House 1, but does not fund the high needs concentration increment proposed in H.70. Regarding English learners (ELs), HWM includes all reported English learners in foundation enrollment and maintains the House 1 and H.70 EL rates. HWM also closes one-sixth of the gap toward the out-of-district special education goal rate proposed in H.70, compared to one-seventh in House 1. Finally, HWM removes the early college and career pathways rate proposed in House 1 and includes all "pathways students" at the regular high school rate.

Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursement (7061-0012) is increased by $9.5M over the FY19 level to $328.9M, with $5M to support growth in district claims and $4M to increase support for the voluntary residential placement prevention program at the Department of Developmental Services.

HWM proposes an increase of $23M for Charter School Tuition District Reimbursements (7061-9010) to $113M, $7M more than the Governor had proposed in House 1. HWM supports the Governor's House 1 proposal to introduce a new three-year formula for reimbursing school districts for charter school tuition increases, putting the program on schedule for full funding within a three-year time frame. Once fully phased in, districts will be reimbursed 100 percent in year one, 60 percent in year two, and 40 percent in year three. Districts that allocate more than 9 percent of their budgets in support of students attending charter schools will benefit from a new minimum tuition reimbursement amount.

The HWM budget has increased Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) by $5M and Homeless Transportation (7035-0008) by $1M over the FY19 General Appropriations Act (GAA). Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation (7035-0007) is eliminated in the FY20 HWM budget, a cut of $250,000. The METCO Program (7010-0012) is funded at $23.6M, an increase of $1.46M over FY19. Foundation Reserve (7061-0011) is not funded in FY20 since students who came here due to Hurricanes Maria and Irma are now included as part of the Chapter 70 formula.

The FY20 HWM budget also eliminates Regional Bonus Aid (7061-9810) and Rural School Aid (7061-9813) and creates a new Regionalization Grants account (7061-9809) for $0.5 million.

HWM did not include the Governor's House 1 proposed education investment trust funds that would be used to seed education investments, including $50 million for a new trust fund to help drive quality improvements in low-performing schools (7010-5010 Public School Improvement Trust Fund) and $30 million to help local school districts address their school safety needs (7010-5020 School Safety Trust Fund).

II. Targeted District Support

HWM did not support the House 1 proposed consolidation of Expanded Learning Time Grants (7061-9412) with the Targeted Assistance account (7061-9408). The accounts remain separate appropriations at similar levels as FY19.

HWM recommends a new account (7061-0016 funded at $16.5M) to address the academic needs of districts with high percentages of low-income students, as well as transitional aid to districts negatively and significantly impacted by the implementation of the economically disadvantaged measurement standard used in the Chapter 70 aid calculation.

III. Literacy and English Language Acquisition

HWM did not support the House 1 proposed consolidation of the Literacy and English Language Acquisition accounts into a newly renamed English Acquisition and Literacy Programs account. The accounts remain separate appropriations, with the Literacy account (7010-0033) funded at $180,000 less than this fiscal year due to an increase in earmark spending. The English Language Acquisition account (7027-1004) is funded at $2.78M, an increase of $281,000 over FY19 budget.

IV. Program Changes

HWM eliminates FY20 funding for the 7061-0010 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Grants. However, it is likely that some of the FY19 funding will continue into FY20 after a PAC (prior appropriation continued) provision is approved through a supplemental budget.

The HWM budget adds a new account for Digital Literacy (7010-1202) to promote digital literacy and computer science education and funds it at $1M.

The FY20 HWM budget increases Adult Basic Education (7035-0002) by $4.75 million over the FY19 GAA.

HWM has funded the School Breakfast Program (7053-1925) at $100,000 less than the FY19 GAA.

The HWM budget eliminates spending for three other accounts previously funded in FY19: 7061-0033 Public School Military Mitigation, 7061-9011 Innovation Schools, and 7061-9401 Assessment Consortium.

HWM supports the House 1 request and increased FY20 funding in the Teacher Certification Retained Revenue (7061-9601) account to $2.3 million to fund staff in the Office of Professional Practice Investigations to reduce the current backlog of cases.

In the FY20 HWM proposal, the Recovery High School Program (7061-9607) is funded at $2.6 million, $500,000 less than FY19 and includes $100,000 for implementation costs.

The FY20 HWM budget provides $1M new funding (accounting for removal of FY19 earmarks) to the After-Schools Grant Program (7061-9611) and funds it at $3.58M.

In the FY20 HWM proposal, Safe and Supportive Schools (7061-9612) is funded at $300,000 less than the FY19 GAA. However, HWM has added a new account for Supporting Healthy Alliances Reinforcing Education (7061-9650) to provide an integrated student wellness grant program to assist schools with addressing non-academic barriers to student success and funds it at $2M.

Mentoring Matching Grants (7061-9634) has received a $250,000 increase over the FY19 GAA and is funded at $1M.

DESE's other accounts are level funded in the HWM proposal with either the removal of legislative earmarks and/or changes in FY20 payroll costs.

The attached chart summarizes the FY20 HWM budget recommendations in comparison to our current year's appropriation history and identifies variances.

V. Next Steps

The HWM recommendations will be debated in the full House starting the week of April 22, 2019. As always, we expect a significant number of floor amendments to be introduced dealing with K-12 funding. The Senate Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its version of the FY20 budget on or before May 15, 2019.

We will discuss the House budget proposal at our April 23rd Board meeting.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


Download Excel Document
FY20 HWM Budget Summary
Download PowerPoint File
FY20 HWM Budget PowerPoint Presentation