The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that the “Millionaires Tax” does NOT meet the requirements to appear on the November ballot eliminating the possibility of billions of new revenue for education and transportation.
We don’t expect, however, that the ruling will silence the growing calls for an increase in school funding to provide relief to cash-strapped districts struggling to cover current education costs.
S. 2525, currently with House Ways & Means, proposes changes to the Foundation Budget funding formula that will result in significant increases in funding to school districts. MBAE understands the financial pressures facing our school districts, but believes these will persist if we don’t adapt our approach to school funding to ensure achievement and skills gaps are closed. Consistent with our position of several years, MBAE is calling for amendments to S. 2525 that would:
- Ensure that funds allocated to districts for needier students (e.g. English Language Learner and Low Income increments) are distributed to the schools where those students are enrolled.
- Give schools greater authority to determine how that money is spent.
- Require that every district distribute 75-80% of all funding to schools. Based on data demonstrating results in closing opportunity and achievement gaps, this proportion could be increased in subsequent years.
- Specify that a Data Advisory Committee must establish tracking systems to ensure that spending is targeted to intended populations at the school level for ELL, low income and SPED students, providing clear transparency about how much funding is being given to schools and how much is being withheld by districts for administration or other centrally provided services.
- Identify methods for districts to conduct productivity reviews to analyze spending and its impact on student learning outcomes; and require districts to employ such reviews to improve the effectiveness of education spending.
Legislative focus on school funding challenges provides a rare opportunity to rethink not just how much new money to allocate but how these funds should be used to ensure all students receive a high quality education that prepares them for success. MBAE is committed to working with legislators to make the most of this opportunity to ensure that the needs of our students are met.