Budget Includes More School Aid
The following offers highlights of the final legislative action during 2005. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
During their year-round 2005 legislative session, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a fiscal 2006 budget that raises spending for the state’s school finance formula, adds new money for student transportation, and creates a $5.5 million fund to assist underperforming schools and districts.
The state’s overall $23.8 billion budget includes $3.8 billion for public schools, which is an increase of $129.3 million—or 3.5 percent—over fiscal 2005. Most of that amount—$3.23 billion—supports Chapter 70 aid, which is the state’s major source of financing for local school operations.
The budget also includes $25 million for grants to improve instruction in existing full-day kindergarten programs and to strengthen connections between preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade.
While overall education funding increased, the state was spared from being forced to commit millions more toward public schools when the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the state’s school finance system following a long-running lawsuit. ("Massachusetts Meets Education Guarantee, State High Court Says," Feb. 23, 2005.)
Also in the 2006 budget, funding for regional transportation—when students ride buses to schools outside their districts—has increased from $38 million to $45 million.
Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed more than $600 million in funds for the state education department’s office of educational quality and accountability and another $75,000 for administrative costs in the department.
The budget does include, however, $5.5 million for intervention programs for low-performing schools and for schools that are at risk of not meeting achievement goals.
Vol. 25, Issue 18, Page 18