Wednesday, November 16, 2016

MassBudget: Feeding Students, Counting Kids, Funding Schools


Feeding Students, Counting Kids, Funding Schools:
Six Recommendations for Improvement

To expand educational opportunity by making sure that more students are well-fed and ready to learn, the federal government has created a program that allows schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students in districts with large numbers of low-income students. Schools that implement this program, called Community Eligibility, no longer collect paper forms from every child to determine who is eligible for free or reduced price meals. Instead, schools use a data matching system to count students as low income for school meals purposes when they are enrolled in other programs that support low-income families. This data-matching direct certification process improves efficiency and expands access to school meals.

The interaction of this program and our school funding formula has, however, led to some challenges. MassBudget's new policy brief
Counting Kids at School: 6 Steps to Better Numbers, presents strategies to fix these unintended consequences.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has recognized the challenges and has already made significant improvements to its data systems. At the direction of the Legislature, DESE is developing further recommendations, which will be final by December 19. Based on MassBudget's ongoing research on
direct certification and its impact on Chapter 70 funding, this new brief presents six recommendations that could help the Commonwealth to achieve a more accurate count of low-income students.
You can read MassBudget's six recommendations in the new policy brief HERE (link).
Related MassBudget resources:

To read about implementation of the Direct Certification program in Massachusetts, read Direct Certification for School Meals: Feeding Students, Counting Kids, Funding Schools.
MassBudget's Children's Budget provides a concise description and funding history of the School Food Programs and Chapter 70 Aid.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, 15 Court Square, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02108

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