This spring, as Massachusetts celebrates the many accomplishments of the past 25 years of education reform, school leaders are also focusing on a much shorter time frame: the next 12-25 months. School budgets continue to exceed the state’s foundation budget formula and an increasing number of districts find themselves unable to make up the difference.
Across the Commonwealth, the funding gap that the 1993 Reform Act was designed to close has been torn open, increasing the inequities between communities that can sustain quality education programs despite rising health and pension costs and the unanticipated expenses of providing education and support services to growing numbers of students in need and communities that can’t. Special education and regional transportation budgets have also been devastated over the past few years as state funding has failed to keep pace with the cost of services. And this fall, new accountability and assessment requirements will add to districts’ financial and administrative burden.
More than two years ago, the Commission assigned to review the School Foundation Budget reported that the formula established 25 years ago was now grossly inadequate to meet the costs of education in the 21st century. Two years later, the legislature has yet to address the formula.
The time to recalibrate the
Funding Formula is NOW!
In the coming weeks, as state legislators debate the 2019 budget, the voice of school leaders, administrators, educators and students needs to be heard, insisting that action be taken. With the range of funding challenges that districts are confronting, it is that much more critical that legislators and other key decision/policy makers understand these challenges and commit to supporting education as a funding priority.
This November, Massachusetts voters will be voting on issues that could significantly impact public education dollars: a petition to lower the sales tax; a petition to raise the tax rate on the state’s highest earners; and the gubernatorial election. The ballot initiatives in particular will face considerable challenges, but we know from the charter school “Question 2” initiative in 2016, school leader voices can triumph even over large (dark) monied interests.
And if this weren’t enough, those who would continue to privatize public schools are still at it, attempting to tie school funding to willingness to allow external profiteers to take over school management without local consent.
2018 Day on the Hill Details
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 8:30am - 2:00pm
PROGRAM: Grand Lodge of Masons, Boston (get directions)
LUNCHEON: Hall of Flags, MA State House (short walk from program across Boston Common - get directions)
MASC’s 2018 Day on the Hill
program on April 25 will prepare you to meet the questions and challenges of the coming months and give you the tools and background to make sure your legislators understand the funding cliff that school districts are balancing on. Join your colleagues, your legislators, your students, MA Budget and Policy Director Noah Berger and the state’s gubernatorial candidates (invited): Jay Gonzales; Robert Massie; Setti Warren and Charlie Baker in a discussion of these issues and their vision for the future of public education in the Commonwealth.
Please Note: Due to extensive renovations that are underway at the State House, MASC is unable to hold the morning event at the State House this year. Instead, our annual legislative forum/advocacy program will be held at the Grand Lodge of Masons in Boston, directly across the Common from the State House, however the gourmet luncheon with legislators made by the vocational culinary students will still be held at the State House at 12pm, following the morning program at the Masonic Lodge.
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