Tuesday, February 4, 2014

13 MA Districts Spent More than Double their Foundation Budget in FY13

During FY13, thirteen Massachusetts districts spent more than double their required foundation budgets as determined by the state. Foundation budgets are defined as the "adequate spending level for a school district” based a number of factors including student enrollment and the proportion of low income and Limited English proficiency students. While the state mandates a certain level of funding in order to provide students with an adequate education, municipalities are not barred from spending more than the minimum spending requirement.


In FY13, Provincetown spent the highest percentage of its foundation budget at 351% or 3.5 times the amount legally required; its foundation budget was $1,203,806 but the town spent $4,225,615. Most districts spent at least 100% of their mandated foundation budgets with just 12 of the 298 districts that reported financial information for FY13 spending less than the required amount. Districts spending less than their foundation budgets were: Brockton, Dracut, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Worcester, Northampton Smith, Nashoba Valley, Northeast Metropolitan, Southern Worcester and Norfolk County. These districts spent between 89.3 and 99.8% of their foundation amounts.

7 comments:

  1. How is this possible and what does this mean?

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    1. The state requires that districts spend a certain amount on public school financing through a combination of Chapter 70 state funds and local contributions (property tax, business tax, etc) each year. These districts spent way more than that. Provincetown, for example, spent 3.5 times the amount of money that the state required or 351%.

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  2. Did the districts in question have all that money to spend? Calling this Foundation spendings seems misleading. Rather, it seems like this is government spending. If so, would it be true that this is also deficit spending, that these districts are spending more than what they have allocated to them? What exactly is public school financing in this case? That seems vague.

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    1. The foundation budget amount is the amount that the state determines is the minimum required in order to provide an adequate education to its students. The funding for public education comes from a combination of Chapter 70 funds and local (i.e. town) contributions. In the case of Provincetown, the town allocated more money to its schools than the state required and was able to fund them at a rate of 3.5 times the amount considered an 'adequate level' by the state. Where that money came from is unclear but generally more affluent districts like Newton or Wellesley are able to allocate more money towards schools than poorer districts due to their tax base.

      The financing pays for teachers, administration, supplies, special education services, charter school tuition if applicable, school building maintenance, etc.

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  3. So the takeaway here is that Lynn is spending below what the state considers adequate. Am I right? Unfortunately I saw your link to what the foundation budget is after I asked the questions, but thanks for explaining!

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    1. You are correct - thanks for reading!

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  4. There is actually a very good explanation of Chapter 70 at http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Facts_10_22_10.html, and it even uses Lynn and Newton as examples.

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