Sunday, March 26, 2023

School Budget hearing Tuesday, March 28 at 7 PM - what we know, what we don't know

What we know: The Superintendent's recommended budget is asking for $2.8M more than last year. The Town only has about $3.2M in new growth forecasted. If the schools got their increase, then the remaining $.4M would be spread among the remaining Town functions: police, fire, DPW, Library, Senior Center, etc. So the $2,8M ask is not likely to be fully funded. 

What we don't know: How will the School budget be funded? Where will the funds come from? There is a Legislative Forum scheduled for April 10 but respectfully, we can't count on additional help from the State. 

The revised school funding formula, the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) already did that by keeping Franklin (and a few other communities) as 'held harmless.' What that means is that the old formula provided more funds to Franklin than the new one would. We benefited greatly during our growth periods of the 90's and 00's under the old formula. Now that our enrollment is in decline, rather than take away the excess of what the formula should give us (currently $11M) they are holding us harmless. 

We can thank our legislative delegation Senate President Karen Spilka, Senator Becca Rausch and State Representative Jeff Roy for this action. In addition to keeping us 'harmless' they did see that we could still benefit from state funding for our two biggest drivers of cost; Special Education Circuit breaker and transportation. 

For additional information on the complexity of transportation, Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick writes:

"This piece about Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan discussing a home rule petition on transportation led me to tweet out this thread this morning, as it appears that two things are being confused. 

First, student transportation doesn't count towards net school spending in any district. Net school spending is specifically defined in 603 CMR 10.06, and it's standard: there isn't a difference between a regional and a municipal school district. There's a handful of things it doesn't include--crossing guards and building rentals are two others--and that's the case for every district.

What is different between municipal and regional district transportation is state reimbursement. Regional districts, under MGL Ch. 71, sec. 16C, have a requirement as to whom they furnish transportation and it is state reimbursed:

...the commonwealth shall reimburse such district to the full extent of the amounts expended for such transportation, subject to appropriation; provided, however, that no reimbursement for transportation between school and home shall be made on account of any pupil who resides less than one and one-half miles from the school of attendance, measured by a commonly traveled route.

The required transportation is reimbursed by the state, generally at about 75%, though this year it is projected to be 90%. "

Continue reading Tracy's piece here -> 

School Budget hearing Tuesday, March 28 at 7 PM
School Budget hearing Tuesday, March 28 at 7 PM

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