Published: January 6, 2005
The education finance formula in Massachusetts guarantees that each district, through state and local funds, will have enough money to meet its foundation level. Unlike in most states, the foundation level varies by district, with an average foundation budget of about $7,585 per pupil in 2004-05. The amount is calculated for each district every year, based on the district’s needs in 18 categories, such as teachers, central-office employees, and books and equipment. Additional money is provided for each district based on weights for grade level, special education students, English-language learners, vocational education students, and low-income students. Each district has a different required local contribution, based on its municipal-revenue growth factor, or MRGF. The growth factor is calculated annually by the state department of revenue. It represents how much the total revenue available to each city or town has increased from the previous year. Massachusetts also helps districts with particular needs by financing 22 categorical programs. It has such programs for transportation, reimbursement for high-cost special education students, early-childhood education, literacy programs, kindergarten-development grants, support for students scoring low on state tests (the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), and school construction assistance. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was expected to issue a decision in Hancock v. Driscoll in late 2004 or early 2005 that could lead to changes in the school finance formula.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 66