Showing posts with label Student Opportunity Act (SOA). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Student Opportunity Act (SOA). Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2022

CommonWealth Magazine: "ed reform money reaching poorer districts"

"THE LOW-INCOME, HEAVILY IMMIGRANT city of Chelsea is getting over $2,600 per pupil more in state education aid than it did two years ago. That translates to nearly $19 million in additional funds each year going into the district’s $118 million budget.  

Mary Bourque, a former Chelsea superintendent and now director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, called that a prime illustration that the Student Opportunity Act, a landmark rewrite of the state’s public education funding formula, is working. 

“It is benefiting those who were intended to benefit,” Bourque said. 

Passage of the law in 2019 came after years of complaints that the state education funding formula was not keeping pace with actual costs of providing an adequate education. The original formula, established through the Education Reform Act of 1993, was designed to help equalize education funding by steering more state aid to poorer communities, but critics say those districts were increasingly struggling to meet the rising costs of educating low-income students, English learners, and special education students. The revamp of the funding formula boosted state aid for all three categories of students as well as for the increasing costs of employee health care.  "
Continue reading the overall assessment of the Student Opportunity Act

Franklin is one of the "minimum aid" for two reasons; one, it is receiving more than the current calculation says it should. The overage amount is second only to Boston. As the local (Franklin taxpayer portion) of Net School Spending increases to the maximum, at that time, Franklin could see increase in benefits. Two, the second reason that Franklin gets minimum aid is due to its declining enrollment. We peaked at 6100 students in 2010 and have dropped to 4710 (as of the Oct 1, 2022 enrollment report).

The Oct 1, 2022 enrollment report as shared with the School Committee 10/25/22

Additional info on the FY 23 school budget can be found online

CommonWealth Magazine: "ed reform money reaching poorer districts"
CommonWealth Magazine: "ed reform money reaching poorer districts"

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Senate President Spilka's Boston Chamber Remarks as Prepared for Delivery - June 21, 2022

It is a great honor to speak with you today. As the Senate heads into the final month of formal sessions, we are poised to try to tackle some of the big issues facing the people of the Commonwealth, and I am feeling optimistic about what we have accomplished and what I believe we can accomplish by working with our partners in the House and the Baker Administration.

Just last week, the Legislature sent the Governor a conference committee VOTES Act, designed to increase voting access by enacting vote-by-mail and expanded early-voting options, widely used in the 2020 election, on a permanent basis. It was my hope that this legislation would include same-day voter registration. Although we couldn’t reach a compromise on this provision, I will continue to advocate for its adoption, as so many Senators remain in favor of this provision.

We also recently passed our Fiscal Year 2023 budget, in which the Senate prioritized workforce development so that employers have access to a larger pool of local talent to hire and partner with. Together with our first ARPA allocation, we have made historic investments in the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, Adult Basic Education, our cybersecurity workforce in partnership with our public community colleges and universities, as we in the Legislature believe the Commonwealth can and should be a leader in cybersecurity, because we see it as a natural priority, and organizations working with people displaced from jobs during the pandemic, historically underserved populations, and individuals reentering their communities from the corrections system.

Finally, despite our current economic uncertainty and all our recent investments in our people, the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund has never been higher. As Ways & Means Chair and now as Senate President, it has been my priority to grow our rainy day fund, and I’m proud to say that it’s now over $6 billion. So when we need it next, we’ll be prepared.

As for the Student Opportunity Act, many of you know that I ran for the Legislature on this issue, because I wanted to achieve real transformative change for all of our students. That’s why I’m proud that, in our recent budget, we invest a record $6 billion in Massachusetts public K-12 schools, thereby providing students with high quality educational opportunities while addressing pandemic costs—and keeping us on track to fulfill the promise of the Student Opportunity Act in seven years.

We also doubled the increase in the amount of local aid to cities and towns, to $1.2 billion, and invested over $900 million in increased funding towards housing stability and assistance to those living with homelessness. The measures we’re taking, including subsidizing rents and the cost of moving, provide concrete help to individuals and families experiencing housing instability while preventing costs from being passed on to local landlords.

As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we ensure that the Commonwealth not only maintains but grows its economic vitality while ensuring the wonderful quality of life we aspire to here. And as we rethink the way that we work, our priorities in a post-COVID world, and grapple with economic realities in an inflationary environment, it’s clear that there are aspects of our economy and our society that just aren’t serving us well anymore.

When it comes to both early education and care, and mental and behavioral health, it seems as if we are still trying to exist in a post World War II structure, where men were assumed to be the primary breadwinners and no one talks about their feelings. But think of everything we have achieved since then—not only have we put a man on the moon, we now carry tiny powerful computers in our pockets. We’ve passed marriage equality, and we’ve made great strides in rights for women, our trans brothers and sisters, and immigrants—and we continue to work towards a more just and equitable Commonwealth for all.

Much of the technology used to propel our world forward—and the groundbreaking social policy used to propel our society forward—was invented right here in Massachusetts. Yet our antiquated beliefs about child care and mental health—and the systems we’ve built to support them—are dragging us down, and need to be urgently addressed if we are to remain economically competitive.

Take early education and care. Before the pandemic, women in Massachusetts were participating in the workforce at increasing rates, surpassing the national rate by 2019—but the pandemic has brought women back to where they were after the 2009 recession. In fact, the percentage of women participating in the U.S. labor market in October 2020 was the lowest since 1988. And while a February 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that men have now recouped all their labor force losses since February 2020, over 1 million fewer women were in the labor force in January 2022 as compared to February 2020. Given how many women either need to work or prefer to work, this reflects an unsustainable trend.

But a lack of affordable early education and care options dampens the economy in other ways too.

According to a recent news article, parents of a four-year-old in Massachusetts can expect to pay 27 per cent of a typical family’s wages on child care—the highest percentage of any state in the U.S. except for Hawaii. In fact, the Economic Policy institute has pointed out that childcare workers themselves cannot afford childcare – because the cost of childcare in Massachusetts is more than 75 percent of the wages earned by a typical childcare worker, which is truly outrageous.

And so I’m proud to report that the Senate is tackling this issue from many different angles—and I’m also excited that there is action in the Legislature to address this important issue this session.

In our Fiscal Year 2021 budget, we created a Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. That commission submitted its final report in March 2022, and included some pragmatic recommendations for the Legislature in the areas of stabilization, family affordability and access; and workforce compensation.

I’m excited to announce that the Senate will be releasing a bill shortly. This legislation, if and when it is fully implemented, will be transformative in expanding access to high quality, sustainable, and affordable early education and care for young children and families in Massachusetts. It also recognizes that our workforce needs significant supports, through salary, and education and training.

To provide a crucial down payment on our efforts to shore up childcare and early education, the Fiscal Year 2023 Senate budget invests a record $1.13B to transform the childcare system, an increase of $309.6M over FY 2022. The Senate budget also formalizes the practice of reimbursing providers based on enrollment rather than attendance, which will provide more stable payments for our early educators. We also dedicate a new $250M to continue the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grant Program through at least the end of the calendar year. We believe that the C3 grants provide the bedrock funding necessary for the continued development of this sector. And, in recognizing that we need to do more for all our providers, particularly subsidized providers, we are putting this provision in our budget to demonstrate the Senate’s commitment to funding this year after year.

I’m optimistic our House colleagues will support these critical infrastructure investments.

With implementation of the SOA well underway, I believe that it’s time to turn our attention to early ed and care—and pursue the same type of transformational change in a multi-year process. The business community has been at the table on the early education and childcare issue – and we need you to stay. With your support, we can continue to shore up our childcare and early education infrastructure to better serve our businesses, our communities, our families, and most importantly, our children.

Another area where we can’t let the systems of the past impinge on our future is mental health.

I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am to Speaker Ron Mariano, Chair Adrian Madaro, and the entire House for passing their version of the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 last week. I am extremely hopeful that we will finally get a comprehensive reform bill done this session, and it can’t come soon enough.
In this post-pandemic, inflationary environment, the stress of finding childcare, putting food on the table, and keeping a roof over your head is detrimental to our overall wellbeing, and yet our mental health care system remains broken, disrupting both people’s lives and our economy.

According to the Lancet, poor mental health was estimated to cost the world economy approximately $2.5 trillion per year in poor health and reduced productivity in 2010, and—in part due to the effects of the pandemic—that cost is projected to more than double to $6 trillion by 2030.

So, investing in mental and behavioral health makes good sense all around. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, for every $1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

That’s why, for Fiscal Year 2023, the Senate budget includes over $1B for mental health supports. These investments are paired with $400M from the American Rescue Plan Act legislation, primarily focused on building and sustaining this much- needed workforce.

Just two weeks ago, I attended the commencement ceremony at William James College, where they are intentionally working to foster a new generation of diverse mental and behavioral health professionals who can help us build the future when it comes to mental health access and care.

The Senate also included funding for a mental health clinician loan forgiveness program, a student telebehavioral health program and a public awareness campaign, and $15M in capacity-building initiatives to tackle the heartbreaking reality of emergency department boarding, along with an additional $100M plus to provide tools to sustain momentum around increased SEL supports, children mental health supports, and to Family Resource Centers.

And because substance use disorder is so often the result of unmet mental health needs, the Senate also dedicates significant funding in this area, including $209.3 million for a complete range of substance use disorder treatment and intervention services to support individuals and their families.

It’s clear that the need for mental health care has risen to the top of the agenda for many, and that may be one of the very few silver linings of the pandemic. I’m proud of all the work the Senate has done to advance this critical issue—and I hope you will all join us in getting this over the finish line—and then let your employees take the time they need to access mental health care! It will truly benefit us all.

Another area where our past threatens our future is our transportation system. By now, we’ve all read about the damning Federal Transportation Authority report. If Jim were here, I know he’d have something to say about this.

As he stated in the Globe, safety concerns are a top reason why employees are hesitant to return to work—and you have to wonder, what is stopping them from looking for work elsewhere? And we all know that when employees leave, employers are often forced to follow.

It’s high time that Massachusetts has the public transportation system to match the values and aspirations of its residents, not just here in Boston but throughout the entire state. As a Commonwealth, we need to take a comprehensive look at what we have, what we want, where we're going and how we pay for it—statewide.

This is important not only to provide a top-notch transportation system, but to reach our climate goals as well. In the climate bill now in conference committee, the Senate focused on electrifying our public transportation and cars, which is essential to reaching the future we envision.

Just this morning, the Speaker and I are announcing our support for continued discussions on East-West rail, including the $50 million we included in the last transportation bond bill, with the intent to include significantly more in the upcoming one. I’m hoping that the creation of this new transportation system will open up opportunities for economic development, just as the South Coast rail and the Green Line extension have done.

But we can’t just focus on these large-scale projects at the expense of the Regional Transit Authorities that service our local communities, and that’s why the Senate added $2.5 million in our budget for RTAs for the first time to explore opportunities for means-tested, discounted or fare-free pilot programs. And although I am disappointed the Governor vetoed the Senate’s attempt to move forward on a low-income fare program at the T and the Commuter Rail last session, I am looking forward to continuing that conversation with my colleagues in the upcoming transportation bond bill currently moving through the legislature. As that bill moves, we will continue to have these important discussions on the future of transportation in our state, and I look forward to the Boston Chamber continuing to be a partner in those talks.

Finally, the Speaker and I have also announced this morning that the Joint Committee on Transportation will hold an oversight hearing on the MBTA. The Federal Transit Administration’s findings and the MBTA’s subsequent service cuts don’t inspire public confidence in our transit system. Given the FTA’s interim findings and alarming directives there is an increased need to better understand the agency’s shortcomings and help restore public confidence, and so we need to learn more so that the Legislature can help ensure the T returns to safe and reliable service.

Finally, I believe our state’s strong financial position means that the Legislature can safely balance targeted spending, in areas like housing, childcare and higher education, with tax relief for individuals and families, and other ways to put money back in people’s pocket.

Last year, the Senate converted tax deductions for young children, elderly or disabled dependents and business-related dependent care expenses into refundable tax credits. This meant an additional $16 million to 86,000 low-income working parents and caregivers, thereby helping to lift families out of poverty, and we were happy to see the Governor expand this Senate initiative in his tax relief proposal, as these are dollars that go directly back into the economy.

In addition, the very first commitment we made with funds from the American Rescue Plan was a billion-dollar investment. We put $500 million towards businesses, in the form of unemployment insurance relief, giving them more resources to hire, innovate and invest back into the economy, and $500 million to frontline workers who couldn’t telecommute and who put themselves at risk, providing $500 checks for those who can use it the most.

$500 payments were delivered to nearly 240,000 people in March in the first round of the program, and the second round is distributing $500 checks to approximately 300,000 additional workers this month—a phenomenal number.

We are currently in discussions about a tax relief proposal, which may include changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the estate tax, among others. We will continue to ensure that Massachusetts is open, competitive, and inclusive, and that these same values guide our tax relief proposal.

As I conclude, it is clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us. But I am, as I said, I am hopeful about the future. Everywhere I go, I see people of all backgrounds and experiences wanting to row in the same direction when it comes to what is best for our children and families, our mental health, and our economy.

And it is indeed an honor to be in a leadership position in this time, even if it is a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty.

I’d like to thank all of you for your leadership in the business community, and for caring so very much about our Commonwealth. I look forward to our continued partnership.

Monday, December 13, 2021

"School funding is both enormously important and extremely complicated"

It is timely that the Franklin School Committee has a workshop scheduled to help the new members understand the Franklin school budget. While much has been written around the impact of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) and how it will help MA better fund schools, this Shanker Report looks at state to state funding comparisons and finds MA lacking.

This helps position the Franklin budget in the overall bigger picture of school funding across the nation. 

"This year's Shanker Institute report on the adequacy and fairness of school funding, which uses 2019 data, gives a stark picture of where we have been in Massachusetts. 

2019, of course, is when, in November, we FINALLY got a revision to the state formula, one-sixth (mostly) of which was FINALLY implemented this current fiscal year.

The work of Bruce D. Baker of Rutgers University), Matthew Di Carlo and Kayla Reist of the Shanker Institute, and Mark Weber, also at Rutgers University, the report looks at effort, progressivity, and adequacy; that is: how much are states actually trying in using the fiscal resources they have for schools, and do they make sure poor kids are getting more resources, and are districts getting enough money to get to outcomes needed.

And we don't look so hot, Massachusetts. "
Continue reading the article online

You can go directly to the Shanker Report ->

The MA profile can be found here ->

our effort level ranks #43 in the nation (out of 49)
our effort level ranks #43 in the nation (out of 49)

Thursday, April 8, 2021

MA State News: vehicle inspection outage continues; vaccine certificates; school funding by Legislature

"After a more than weeklong outage in the state’s vehicle inspection system, service stations on Wednesday finally started receiving a software fix that is expected to solve the malware attack that hamstrung the testing program in Massachusetts and seven other states.

The contractor targeted by the attack, Applus Technologies, sent the software updates on flash drives to more than 1,700 shops in Massachusetts and walked operators through a reboot intended to protect the machines.

The inspection system has been offline since the attack on Applus on March 30, and is unlikely to be back online this week, according to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

"Baker unwilling to talk vaccine passports"

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is uninterested in talking about vaccination passports.

Asked whether Massachusetts might consider creating vaccine passports – which would impose restrictions on unvaccinated individuals – Baker did not explicitly say no, but said his focus is on getting people vaccinated. “Having a conversation about creating a barrier before people had an opportunity to be eligible to be vaccinated, let’s focus on getting people vaccinated,” Baker said, speaking after visiting a vaccination site in Revere."

"Legislature will increase school funding next year"

THE LEGISLATURE HAS agreed to take a more generous approach to funding public schools next year than Gov. Charlie Baker did, responding to concerns from education advocates that Baker’s proposal was inadequate.  

The legislative approach reflects a different time frame for phasing in an updated school funding formula, and the creation of a new fund to help districts that saw pandemic-related enrollment drops. But some advocates are still unhappy with lawmakers’ compromise approach, saying it does not fully address districts’ needs.

The chairs of the House and Senate ways and means committees announced in a joint statement Tuesday that they plan to put $5.503 billion into Chapter 70, the K-12 school funding formula, in their fiscal 2022 budget, which represents an increase of $219.6 million over the current year. That is $21.9 million more than what Baker had proposed. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

“We’re a year behind in fulfilling the promise of the Student Opportunity Act"

"The Baker-Polito Administration today filed its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget recommendation, a $45.6 billion proposal that continues the Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses critical priorities including promoting economic growth, fully funding the first year of the landmark Student Opportunity Act, and supporting cities and towns across Massachusetts. This balanced proposal does not raise taxes on the Commonwealth’s residents and preserves substantial financial reserves for the future.

Submitted as House 1, this budget recommendation provides $246.3 million in new funding for the Student Opportunity Act including an increase of $197.7 million in Chapter 70 funding, with a particular focus on school districts serving low-income students. The Administration is also proposing to allow municipalities to count $114 million in federal dollars towards their Chapter 70 required local contribution increases to further deliver on the commitments in the Student Opportunity Act. Additionally, House 1 maintains the Administration’s promise to cities and towns with a $39.5 million increase in unrestricted local aid, which is equivalent to the 3.5% consensus tax revenue growth rate."
Continue to read the press release from Gov Baker's office

To review the budget letter and funding details

Chapter 70 info for FY 2022 from DESE

Insights into the details of the budget and slick accounting used

Critics of the budget proposal outline details

Gov Baker budget press conference:

Saturday, January 23, 2021

CommonWealth Magazine: Student Opportunity Act to be funded in FY 22 budget; sports betting bill filed again


"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER will propose fully funding the first year of the recently updated school funding formula when he releases his fiscal 2022 budget proposal next week – a commitment that was delayed by a year due to COVID-19.  

Baker made the announcement on Friday at the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting, which was conducted virtually due to COVID-19. 

Baker did not go into details other than to say the administration will “keep our commitment to local school districts by fully funding the first year of the Student Opportunity Act.” 

The governor did not give an exact dollar figure for how much additional money he will put into education aid. But based on past estimates, it will likely be more than $300 million. "

Continue reading the article online

"Sports betting is back.

State Sen. Brendan Crighton, a Lynn Democrat, reintroduced a bill this week to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, reviving a debate that died without action at the end of the last legislative session.

“Looking at the states around us, folks are going to bet on sports whether or not we legalize this, but right now the money’s going to the black market and to other states,” Crighton said in an interview with CommonWealth. “With the black market, you’re not getting any consumer protections. We think it’s important to bring people out of the shadows into the regulated market.”

Last summer, the Massachusetts House voted on a bill to legalize sports betting. The House then included sports betting in its version of an economic development bill. But the Senate never held a vote on the policy, and it was left out of the final version of the economic development bill."

Continue reading the article online

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Governor's budget "cuts the amount of K-12 school funding"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

THE UNVEILING of Gov. Charlie Baker’s revised fiscal year 2021 budget raised eyebrows. Some called it a “miracle budget” because he proposed a balanced budget without large-scale cuts and — notably — without raising taxes.

To be clear, raising taxes on families and businesses already facing financial hardship is not the right thing to do — on this point, we agree with the governor.

Where we disagree is the idea that the state can get through this storm without raising any taxes. The wealthiest households and large, profitable corporations should be paying more taxes to support communities in this time of dire need.

We commend the administration for some proposals, like delaying the state charitable deduction, and for its overall budget-balancing prowess. However, there are many areas where this budget falls short of our communities’ needs.


The prime example is K-12 school funding. A new law, the Student Opportunity Act, recognized the need to dramatically increase state support for students in low-income families, English Language Learners, and those receiving special education.

Not only does the governor’s new budget delay the Student Opportunity Act’s implementation, it also cuts the amount of K-12 school funding from his January proposal by $195.5 million. (The slight increase in his budget compared with last year accounts only for inflation and normal enrollment growth.) The pain of these cuts will fall hardest on our students, particularly from Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities, which the new law was intended to support.

On top of these challenges, schools are trying to retrofit buildings for safe ventilation, ensure all students have access to online learning, and support children facing trauma. Federal relief will cover some of these unexpected costs, but that relief is insufficient, often restrictive, and contingent upon a mercurial Congress.

Continue reading the article online
Links to the Governor's updated budget can be found online

Chapter 70 Unrestricted Gen'l Gov't Aid
FY 2021 - January 2020 5,479,534,540 1,160,218,724
FY 2021 - October 2020
Difference -195,882,908 -31,601,288 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The rainy day fund, pandemic spending, deceptive framing all in one MA FY 21 budget

Pulling together multiple sources today.

"Despite the pandemic-related recession and high unemployment rates, and an expected drop in state tax revenues, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday released a budget proposal for the current fiscal year that is actually higher than the budget he proposed in January.

Baker, a Republican, is recommending a fiscal 2021 budget of $45.5 billion, or 3.8 percent more than was spent in fiscal 2020. The budget he released in January would have spent $44.6 billion, or 2.3 percent more than in the prior fiscal year.

The high budget is largely driven by excessive spending in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. It would be paid for with an influx of federal money as well as a $1.3 billion draw from the state’s $3.5 billion rainy day fund.

“The rainy day fund is there to support services when it’s raining, and I think most people would agree it’s raining,” Baker said at a State House press conference."

"The revised budget is built on a projection that state tax revenues will be $3.6 billion lower than originally estimated, due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. Overall, the updated budget would be balanced through a blend of increased federal assistance, a drawdown of $1.35 billion from the state’s $3.5 billion stabilization fund (preserving $2.1 billion for future needs), and changes to a range of appropriation recommendations.

The Division of Local Services released revised Cherry Sheet amounts for each city and town today based on the new budget recommendation. The DLS update includes receipt and assessment items for municipalities and regional school districts. (Link to updated Cherry Sheets for regional school districts.)

The governor said that he hoped the Legislature would return a final budget to him by Thanksgiving."

"Today, Governor Baker filed his FY21 budget with you. While I had hoped for better than the inflation-only increase that was passed in July, I to some degree was also resigned to it. However, to hear the Governor repeat the deceptive framing posed by Secretary Peyser yesterday, that the funding to schools this year surpasses that laid out by the Student Opportunity Act, is infuriating. I have had reason to wonder if the Governor has any understanding of the school funding formula before this, but this statement has confirmed that he either does not or chooses willfully to ignore the principle upon which it is based.
Pandemic funding is precisely that: it is funding for an EMERGENCY. To have that funding then touted as filling the gaping hole in our basic needs is simply wrong; having to spend money to repair my car does not take away my need for gas money.
Moreover, the funding for the pandemic has been flat: it is distributed regardless of student need, regardless of community need. Every student in every district, whatever its wealth, received that emergency funding. The state's funding formula, on quite the other hand, is progressive: it recognizes that greater need requires greater resources to meet.  "

Monday, September 14, 2020

Commonwealth Magazine: "Business groups urge shifting aid from wealthier to poorer school districts" ; "MassDOT, Boston stick with auto-centric approach"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share two articles of interest for Franklin:  

"LESS THAN A year after Massachusetts enacted sweeping legislation to revamp its school funding formula to steer millions of dollars in new aid to low-income districts, a new report suggests the state should go even further in ensuring that support goes to the neediest districts.

Although the more than $5 billion of state funding to schools is largely directed to lower-income school districts, nearly $800 million is allocated without regard to need. A report released Monday by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce says the state should pull back on that funding and redeploy those dollars to low-income districts that continue to struggle to adequately fund schools.

“If ever there was a moment to promote equity in funding education, now is the time to do it,” said Ed Lambert, executive director of the business alliance. “For every dollar we send to communities that can afford to fund schools on their own we’re moving further, not closer, to equity.”

Lambert said uncertainties introduced by the pandemic about the state’s ability to meet its commitments to poorer districts under the funding measure passed last year make the case even more urgent for cutting the amount of aid distributed on a “need-blind” basis."

Continue reading the article online

"THIS IS A TALE of two transportation issues – a window on how we may be losing the opportunity moment provided by a generationally disruptive pattern break.

The pattern break, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. Every pattern break in history changes the ways we do things going forward. The example I give most often is the experience of 9/11. That pattern break changed forever the way we approach flying and aviation security, it changed the ways we enter public and private buildings, it changed the urban streetscape as barriers originally installed as ugly concrete blocks gave way to highly designed barriers that blend seamlessly into the architectural fabric of the urban landscape.

The COVID-19 pattern break will be as or more significant than the 9/11 break. The impacts of the pandemic reach into almost every aspect of our lives – how we work, how we use and enjoy public and private spaces, how we move from place to place, how we utilize essential services.  The list is nearly endless.

The pandemic won’t last forever – nothing does.  But its effects will stay with us for a long time, some perhaps permanently.  Each of us has been challenged to manage and deal with the realities of this harsh moment – the need to isolate from others, to wear masks outside the home, to significantly alter our desires and habits. But each of us also is being challenged to think about how to build a better future."
Continue reading the article online

Monday, April 13, 2020

In the News: "Student Opportunity Act funding in question"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Pushed by Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in November, the $1.4 billion Student Opportunity Act aims to invest in students who have been left behind, such as those with disabilities or limited English skills. It implements the recommendations of a state commission, which reported in 2015 that the state’s outdated school funding formula, known as the foundation budget, underestimates the cost of education by $1 billion annually.

The injection of new cash from the state is meant to begin next fiscal year, which begins July 1. It was included in Baker’s FY2021 $44.6 billion budget, which was based on the projection that the state would collect an estimated $31.15 billion in tax revenue during fiscal 2021.

But economic activity has halted in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Nonessential businesses have shut down and residents are staying home to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

As a result, financial experts expect state revenues will fall."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

State revenues are likely to fall, driven by the same circumstances on the local level Franklin's revenues are likely to fall as well. How much is still too early to say. Assuming the 4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 sees the dip, the current year budget will need looking at. The revenue forecast for FY 2021 is already in jeopardy as stated by Town Administrator Jamie Hellen in the most recent interview.  (4/10/20(

Getting back to the school budget, the Franklin School Committee holds their budget hearing Tuesday with a remote meeting. The budget presentation and related documents were shared here on Sunday.

Presentation Link = 

All the documents released for this budget hearing can be found online

Links I would bring attention to

Franklin, MA:: School Committee Agenda & Budget Hearing April 14, 2020
Franklin, MA:: School Committee Agenda & Budget Hearing April 14, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

School Committee meeting - March 10, 2020 - Recap

Among the key updates from the School Committee meeting of March 10,2020 were 
  • presentation from Parmenter students on their "passion projects"
  • Elementary school principals provided updates on their School Improvement Plans
  • Superintendent Ahern provided an update from the FY 2021 budget discussion at the Town Council meeting the prior week
  • Superintendent Ahern presented the first pass at the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) commitment required by April 1
  • The consent agenda was approved without the Oak St trip item which was held for a future meeting
  • The Committee entered executive session not to return to open meeting

School Committee actions taken:

Superintendent's Report:

Additional details can be found in my notes captured during the meeting
  • Live Reporting: Information Matters through to Closing
  • Live Reporting: Discussion/Action Items - Discussion Only Items
  • Live Reporting: Guests/Presentations
  • Live reporting: School Committee - March 10, 2020

Elementary school principals provided updates on their School Improvement Plans
Elementary school principals provided updates on their School Improvement Plans

Parmenter students presented on their "passion projects"
Parmenter students presented on their "passion projects"

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Franklin, MA: School Committee - Agenda - March 10, 2020

Vision Statement
The Franklin Public Schools will foster within its students the knowledge and skills to find and achieve satisfaction in life as productive global citizens.

“The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law.”

I. Routine Business
A. Review of Agenda
B. Citizen’s Comments
In the spirit of open communication, “the Committee will hold a public participation segment (also called Citizen’s Comments) about matters not related to an agenda item at the beginning of each regular School Committee meeting. The Committee will listen to, but not respond to any comment made…. A Committee member may add an agenda item to a future meeting as a result of a citizen comment…. The Committee will hear public comments related to an agenda item when the Chair deems appropriate during the Committee meeting. Topics for discussion during the meeting must be limited to those items listed on the Committee meeting agenda for that evening…. ” - from Policy BEDH
C. FHS Student Representative Comments
D. Superintendent’s Report

II. Guests/Presentations
A. Student Passion Project Presentation (Parmenter students)
B. Elementary School Improvement Plan Updates

III. Discussion/Action Items
A. Policy – 2nd Reading / Adoption
I recommend adoption of policy BEDH – Public Participation at School Committee meetings as detailed.

IV. Discussion Only Items
A. FY21 Budget Discussion

B. Student Opportunities Act Plan

V. Information Matters
A. School Committee Sub-Committee Reports (e.g. Ad Hoc Supt. Evaluation, Ad Hoc Facilities Analysis, Budget, Community Relations/Public Schools Advocacy, Policy, Transportation)
B. School Committee Liaison Reports (e.g. Joint PCC, Substance Abuse Task Force, School Wellness Advisory Council)

VI. New Business
A. To discuss any future agenda items

VII. Consent Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
I recommend approval of the minutes from the February 25, 2020 School Committee Meeting as detailed.
B. ASMS Gift
I recommend acceptance of a check for $650.00 from the Franklin Cultural Council for in-house enrichment at Annie Sullivan Middle School as detailed.
C. Oak Street Gifts
I recommend acceptance of two checks totaling $8,336.25 from the Oak Street PCC for in-house enrichment and field trips for Oak Street Elementary School as detailed.
D. Oak Street Trip
I recommend approval of the request of Allison Fuller to take 3rd grade students to The Veteran’s Auditorium in Providence, RI on May 19, 2020 for a performance as detailed.
E. SATF - Hidden in Plain Sight Grant Award
I recommend acceptance of a check for $500.00 from the Norfolk District Attorney for in-house enrichment as detailed.

VIII. Payment of Bills Dr. Bergen

IX. Payroll Ms. D’Angelo

X. Executive Session
Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §21(a)(3) to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining with the FEA as an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the School Committee and the chair so declares.

XI. Adjournment

The file released for this meeting can be found online at the Town of Franklin page

Franklin, MA: School Committee - Agenda - March 10, 2020
Franklin, MA: School Committee - Agenda - March 10, 2020