Thursday, April 3, 2014

Western Mass. Community Facing 10% in State Aid to Schools

Recent reports indicate that unless the city of Lynn either spends more money on its public schools or receives a reprieve via legislative action, it will potentially lose over $7 million in Chapter 70 state aid. In addition to Lynn, there are 3 other districts facing losses in state aid for fiscal year 2015 as a result of spending under the net school spending requirements

Hancock (population approx. 717) is a town located in western Massachusetts right on the border with New York state. The town itself has just one school, an elementary school, which serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through 6th and as of this school year, has a total enrollment of 45 students. Students in upper grade levels attend school at either Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown or Pittsfield High School. In total, the town's foundation budget was based on a total of 101 students in fiscal year (FY) 2014.

In FY14, Hancock budget projects that it will spend 93.1% of, or $70,193 under, its net school spending (NSS) requirement. Because of this, the town is facing a $19,332 loss in aid next year; this amounts to 9.7% of its estimated state aid contribution for FY15. 

$19,332  / $199,115 (Projected FY15 Ch. 70 Aid) = 9.7% of Chapter 70 aid

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) currently lists Hancock's FY15 total NSS amount as $924,727.

The circumstances surrounding the potential loss in state aid Lynn is facing have been noted here. The $7 million loss in aid would amount to 5.1% of the city's FY15 state aid allocation.

$7,030,507 / $138,630,541 (Projected FY15 Ch. 70 Aid) = 5.1% 

The DESE currently lists Lynn's FY15 NSS amount as $181,764,115; this does not include the potential millions of dollars that would be carried over to the next fiscal year if the city does not meet its FY14 NSS requirements. 

Palmer is a town in Western Massachusetts with a total population of about 12,140. The town's school district serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 grade and currently has an enrollment of 1,469 students. Nearly 90% of the student population is White and 46.1% low income. 

In FY14, Palmer is projected to spend 93.2% of its NSS requirement and is facing a $367,457 loss in state aid. This amounts to 4.4% of its FY15 state aid allocation. In order to meet its NSS for the current fiscal year, Palmer will have to spend an additional $1.2 million on its public schools; to at least meet the 95% threshold that would allow it to avoid financial penalties, the town would have to spend an additional $326,815.75

$367,457 / $10,664,455 (Projected FY15 Ch. 70 Aid) = 4.4% 

The DESE currently lists Palmer's FY15 NSS amount as $17,483,901.

Northampton Smith
Northampton-Smith Vocational Agricultural School is located in Northampton, MA, approximately 15 miles north of Springfield. The schools enrolls about 413 students in grades 9 - 12 and currently 37% of its student population is special education.

In FY14, Northampton-Smith has budgeted to spend 94.5% of its required NSS and is facing an $11,912 loss in state aid. This is the equivalent of 1.3% of its FY15 aid allocation. To meet the 95% threshold, Northampton-Smith will have to spend an additional $11,911.55.

$11,912 / $895,485 (Projected FY15 Ch. 70 Aid) = 1.3% 

The DESE currently lists Hancock's FY15 NSS amount as $2,343,463.

Source: Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

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