Massachusetts Senate unanimously approves Foundation Budget reforms, sending bill to House

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 11, 2018

Massachusetts Senate unanimously approves Foundation Budget reforms, sending bill to House

(BOSTON, MA) – On Thursday, May 10th, students, parents, and teachers filled the State House as the Massachusetts Senate unanimously voted to pass a key education reform bill to update the state’s 25-year-old funding formula.

S.2506, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, was introduced by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and was co-sponsored by 36 senators. The bill would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) which found that the foundation budget formula is drastically underestimating education costs. This has forced deep cuts to classrooms and critical programs, and one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation.

“The State Legislature has always made it a priority to provide fair and equal education for all children in Massachusetts,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), “This legislation would provide the necessary funding for school districts to provide resources to close achievement gaps among students enrolled in the public school system.”

“With the unanimous passage of the commission’s recommendations, the Senate is doing its part to make good on our obligation to every child in Massachusetts,” said Senator Chang-Díaz, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “For years now, our schools have been suffering death by a thousand paper cuts, and it’s long past time we right this wrong. Schools and families shouldn’t have to lawyer up to get a quality education for their children.”

The vote follows months of advocacy by education stakeholders across Massachusetts. More than 50 school committees across the state have passed resolutions supporting the reforms, and Brockton Public Schools announced earlier this year that they are preparing to sue the Commonwealth for failing in its constitutional obligation to properly fulfill its obligations to funding.

Established by the 1993 Education Reform Act, the Foundation Budget was designed to ensure every Massachusetts student was provided a quality education. However, the formula has failed to keep up with rising fixed costs like health care and special education that have outpaced initial estimates. It also underrated what it actually takes to educate English Language Learners and students living in poverty. The FBRC found these combined costs have led the Commonwealth to underestimate the cost of education by $1-2 billion every year.

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