Metro Mayors Coalition urges Legislature to act quickly on improving education funding formula
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 5, 2019
BOSTON - Mayors and managers from 15 cities and towns in Greater Boston’s urban core today joined together to urge the Legislature to move quickly on significant overhaul of the state’s education funding formula.
The members of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a collaborative group that works to solve common challenges, voted to sign and send a letter to the State House supporting efforts to enact meaningful improvements to the K-12 education funding formula during 2019, the first year of this legislative session. The vote was unanimous, and the letter was sent today.
Metro Mayors includes municipal officials representing more than 1.4 million constituents in Arlington, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop.
“The Metro Mayors Coalition is thankful that state leaders are making a serious effort to update Massachusetts' education funding formula,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Chair of the Metro Mayors Coalition. “The principles outlined by the Coalition offer a municipal perspective on how we can best reform the system equitably and in a way that reflects the true costs of providing quality education to all our students.”
“Every student deserves an equal opportunity to receive a great public school education that prepares them for a successful future,” said Medford Mayor Stephanie M. Burke, Vice Chair of the Coalition. “I support the education funding principles and believe these will create a guaranteed minimum level of funding for all districts. In addition, I support education finance legislation that addresses funding inequities as well as other reforms that will bring additional needed resources to communities. I am committed to the essential work of providing every child with a quality education and to ensure that ‘all’ means all.”
“There is no dispute that the current education funding formula is not adequate to fund education costs in our urban districts, particularly in those communities with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students and English Language Learners,” said Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino. “For too long, municipalities have been forced to fill this funding gap, but that is not sustainable. It is imperative that the Commonwealth fix the formula and provide the necessary funding to ensure that all public school children, regardless of where they live, have an equal opportunity to succeed.”
Metro Mayors adopted several principles to reflect what the coalition believes public education funding legislation should accomplish, at a minimum:
- Legislation should fully adjust the special education rate to reflect the true cost of educating in-district and out-of-district special education students, as determined by the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
- In order to recognize the cost of educating low-income students, the low-income increment, as determined by the district’s number of low-income students, should be set at a level between 50% and 100% of the statewide per-pupil average of Foundation Budget payments. We must ensure that all students who qualify for the increment are counted, and each district should be able to pursue legitimate alternative methods to determine the number of students that are low-income.
- Legislation should fully implement an English Language Learners increment and maintain the existing method of identifying English Language Learners.
- Foundation Budget funding should be updated to reflect the true cost of employee and retiree health insurance benefits, with annual adjustments that are benchmarked to the rates issued by the Group Insurance Commission.
- Guarantee that districts receive a floor of Chapter 70 funding, after accounting for net charter school tuition costs.
- All districts should be provided with a minimum per-pupil increase in education aid over existing funding levels.
- Any changes to education funding should not undercut any other vital Local Aid accounts, and the state should fully fund its other statutory commitments to cities and towns for additional education expenditures.
“Quality education and students who are ready to work, succeed, and innovate – that’s what makes Greater Boston stand out from the rest of the country,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in Boston, which staffs and facilitates the Metro Mayors. “But over the last few years, many school districts have been falling behind, and they can’t keep up with limited local funds. That is why Metro Mayors is urging quick action on legislation that can have an immediate and profound impact on students throughout the Commonwealth. The best time to invest in the future is when the economy is strong, and that time is now.”
For more information on the Metro Mayors Coalition, visit mapc.org/get-involved/coalitions/mmc/.
Town Manager of Arlington
MARTIN J. WALSH
Mayor of Boston
JOSEPH C. SULLIVAN
Mayor of Braintree
Town Administrator of Brookline
LOUIS A. DEPASQUALE
City Manager of Cambridge
City Manager of Chelsea
CARLO DeMARIA, JR.
Mayor of Everett
Mayor of Malden
STEPHANIE MUCCINI BURKE
Mayor of Medford, Vice-Chair
GAIL M. INFURNA
Mayor of Melrose
Mayor of Newton
THOMAS P. KOCH
Mayor of Quincy
Mayor of Revere
JOSEPH A. CURTATONE
Mayor of Somerville, Chair
Town Manager of Winthrop