Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz Says Education Funding Formula Needs Update [VIDEO]

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

The Foundation Budget formula is critical as it produces a number for every school district. There are two things about the budget, first is that it is based on the number and kinds of students in the district. The amount of money the state says a district has to spend at minimum depends on that number.

The other key piece is how much of per district cost will be covered by the state. This is how important the Foundation Budget formula is for Massachusetts state policy.

The formula was written in 1993 and has not been updated once in almost-a-quarter century since. The key cost drivers have changed a lot, particularly health care and special education costs that have risen than currently accounted for in the formula. It has greatly affected the school systems, which leaves them with little to spend elsewhere and sometimes would force them to make cuts to programs that directly impact the students.

The 24-year-old school funding formula comes up short by $1-2 billion according to a group of lawmakers and education experts on Monday. Together they unveiled a new proposal as the projecting real cost of public education each year has changed so much.

WBUR reported Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, state representative for the Second Suffolk district, has made a move on Beacon Hill to change that. Chang-Diaz is the lead sponsor of S.223, the bill that would phase in an overhaul of the current K-12 funding formula.

Chang-Diaz added that the schools are not asking for extra funding but rather on the funding formula that has eroded. Schools are asked to do more and more with less of what they are given.

The new bill will require the state to use data from the Group Insurance Commission, which is the state insurance provider for state employees. It will more accurately project each school district's healthcare costs and increase the percentage of each district's students enrolled in special education programs from 15 to 16 percent, The Sharon Wicked Local reported.

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