BOSTON – On May 10, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting to pass a key education reform bill to update the state’s 25-year-old funding formula.
The bill, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century (S.2506), was introduced by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and was co-sponsored by 36 senators. The bill would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), which found that the foundation budget formula is drastically underestimating education costs. This has forced deep cuts to classrooms and critical programs, and one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation.
“The Foundation Budget was meant to fully fund our public schools and to give every Massachusetts student the chance to get an adequate education, yet so many students still do not have the resources they need to achieve academic success,” said Senator Friedman. “This bill outlines the process and timeline for updating our state’s school funding formula to address educational needs and help ensure that all of our students have access to a quality education.”
The vote follows months of advocacy by education stakeholders across Massachusetts. More than 50 school committees across the state have passed resolutions supporting the reforms, and Brockton Public Schools announced earlier this year that they are preparing to sue the Commonwealth for failing in its constitutional obligation to properly fulfill its obligations to funding.
Established by the 1993 Education Reform Act, the Foundation Budget was designed to ensure every Massachusetts student was provided a quality education. However, the formula has failed to keep up with rising fixed costs like health care and special education that have outpaced initial estimates. It also underrated what it actually takes to educate English Language Learners and students living in poverty. The FBRC found these combined costs have led the Commonwealth to underestimate the cost of education by $1-2 billion every year.
To continue tracking the bill, visit www.malegislature.gov.