“In their budget proposal, the state government came through with significant funding for schools as did the federal government through stimulus legislation,” Superintendent Patrick Brady said in his latest Board of Education update.
One of the concerns for superintendents has been how much Foundation Aid, their basic operating aid, would be received for the 2021-22 budget. Mr. Brady said the state budget calls for a $1.4 billion, or 7.6% increase in Foundation Aid.
Foundation Aid was enacted in 2007 to resolve the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system. Reforms were to be fully phased-in by 2010-11, increasing aid to all districts by a total of $5.5 billion.
But the Foundation Aid formula was largely frozen during the Great Recession and funding is now $3.84 billion below the level promised for 2010-11, without taking into account the general aid reduction imposed by the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
“The budget also provides for a three-year phase-in of full Foundation Aid funding. In 2022-23, districts would receive 50% of any remaining positive difference between their current Foundation Aid and their full funding level. In 2023-24, districts would receive their full phase-in amount,” Mr. Brady said.
Another concern was that federal stimulus money would be used by the state to balance its budget this year, leaving the possibility of the federal money drying up and districts facing what they did when the state had a larger deficit during the Great Recession in 2008-09. That led to severe cuts in many school districts. But that won’t be the case this year.
“The budget avoids offsetting federal aid with reductions in state funding to schools,” Mr. Brady said. “The budget puts schools in a vastly better position than we would have dared to hope for last summer or fall. This was made possible by three primary sources: much smaller than projected declines in state revenues, assistance from Washington, and state tax increases projected to generate more than $4 billion in revenue.”
Monday’s Board of Education meeting begins at 7 p.m. and can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page at http://wdt.me/z6S5UX.
The public budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. May 6, and the budget vote and Board of Education election are scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. May 18.