Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tri-County RVTSD Calls On MA Lawmakers To Make Foundation Budget Top Priority

At its March 15, 2017 School Committee Meeting, Tri-County members voted to endorse S.223, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, as its top priority for education policy this legislative session due to its comprehensive approach to education funding.

“We need to address the inadequacies in the foundation budget around health insurance and special education costs,” says Superintendent, Stephen Dockray.

Filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, S.223 fully implements the recommendations of the appointed, bi- partisan 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). The FBRC found that the current formula underestimates the resources necessary to serve ELL and low-income students and fails to account for rising health care and special education costs. In all, the FBRC found that Massachusetts is underestimating the total cost of education by $1-2 billion each year. As a result, Massachusetts ranks 48th nationally in the achievement gap between affluent and poor students.

“The 1993 Education Reform Act set a radical and sensible goal: to ensure quality education for all children, regardless of zip code,” adds Senator Chang-Díaz. “The Foundation Budget has served Massachusetts – our children, our families, and our employees – incredibly well over its first 15-20 years. But it’s no longer working for the demands of the 21st century. For several years now, our schools have been suffering from death by a thousand paper cuts, and it’s long past time we right this wrong”

S.223 follows the FBRC’s recommendations to update the formula by using actual averages from the state government’s cost-efficient health insurance network—the Group Insurance Commission—to adjust insurance estimates, increasing the assumed special education in-district enrollment and out-of-district costs to reflect reality, and adjusting the ELL and low-income components to align with 21st century best practices. The bill will also establish a Data Advisory Task Force to review school level education data to better inform future policy decisions.

The Foundation Budget was first established in 1993 by the Education Reform Act, and was designed to serve as the starting point for funding school districts across the Commonwealth, by calculating the circumstances and needs of each student. Little has been done to update the formula in the 24 years since its passage, leaving it insufficient to meet the needs of a modern public education system.

Tri-County RVTHS, located at 147 Pond Street in Franklin, is a recipient of the High Schools That Work Gold Achievement Award and serves the communities of Franklin, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleborough, Plainville, Seekonk, Sherborn, Walpole, and Wrentham.

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