SECTION 1. Section 2 of chapter 70 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the definition of “Assumed in-school special education enrollment” and inserting in place there the following definition:-
“Assumed in-school special education enrollment”, 4 per cent of the total foundation enrollment in a district, not including vocational or preschool enrollment, plus 5 per cent of vocational enrollment.
SECTION 2. Said section 2 of said chapter 70, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “District or School district” the following definition:-
“Employee health insurance rate”, the employer share of the average active employee premium for all group insurance commission plans for the 3 previous fiscal years; provided, however, that the group insurance commission shall annually, not later than June 30, provide the department with data necessary for the determination of the rate or an increase of it.
SECTION 3. Said section 2 of said chapter 70, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the definition of “Foundation benefits” and inserting in place thereof the following definition:-
“Foundation benefits”, the amount allotted within a district's foundation budget for employee benefits and fixed charges; provided, however, that the allotment shall be equal to 1.29 times the sum of: (i) the employee health insurance rate multiplied by the number of active employees for whom the district provides health insurance; and (ii) the retired employee health insurance rate multiplied by the number of the district’s retired employees receiving health insurance through the district or any of its member municipalities; and provided further, that each district shall annually, not later than June 30, provide the department with data necessary to determine the number of retired employees.
SECTION 4. Said section 2 of said chapter 70, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking the definition of “foundation special education tuition” and inserting in place thereof the following definition:-
“Foundation special education tuition”, the amount allotted within a district’s foundation budget for special education tuition in any fiscal year. The value shall be the product of 3 times the statewide foundation budget per pupil amount and the assumed tuitioned-out special education enrollment.
SECTION 5. Said section 2 of said chapter 70, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Professional development allotment” the following definition:-
“Retired employee health insurance rate”, the weighted average of the group insurance commission premium for all retiree plans for the 3 previous fiscal years; provided, however, that the group insurance commission shall annually, not later than June 30, provide the department with data necessary for the determination of such rate.
SECTION 6. Chapter 70 of the General laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 4 the following section:-
Section 4A. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, paragraphs 4, 17, 43, 85, and 117 of section 2 of chapter 70 shall be fully implemented by fiscal year 2024; provided, that the rates for implementation shall be determined annually by the legislature based on cost estimates to be provided annually by the department; provided further, that if revenue projections for the following fiscal year significantly exceed the available revenues for the current fiscal year, the rates for assumed in-school special education enrollment and foundation benefits may increase at higher rates to be determined by the legislature.
(a) The commissioner, shall convene a data advisory commission to promote the improved use of state, district and school-level data to inform effective resource allocations at the local level.
The data advisory commission shall assist the department in identifying, analyzing, and making recommendations on high-impact, cost effective strategies for addressing student needs including, but not limited to:
(i) establishing a data collection and reporting system to: (a) track funding allocated for low-income students and students identified as English learners pursuant to chapter 71A and ensure spending is targeted to the intended populations; and (b) allow for access to school-level expenditures and data across all districts to inform the public and policy-makers of high impact, cost effective school-level interventions and investments;
(ii) strengthening the department’s capacity to analyze and report staffing, scheduling and financial data in ways that support strategic resource allocation decisions at the district and school levels, including a review of national practice models that ensure greater financial transparency;
(iii) strengthening district capacity to use state, district and school data to use benchmarking tools to inform strategic resource allocation and implementation decisions; and
(iv) streamlining financial reporting, eliminating duplicative reporting requirements and improving data quality.
The data advisory commission shall include the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, who shall serve as chair, the secretary of education, or a designee, and 1 member to be appointed by each of the following organizations, all of whom shall have a demonstrated knowledge, experience and interest in data collection for purposes of improving student performance: the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Inc.; the Massachusetts School Administrators Association, Incorporated; the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, Inc.; and 3 members to be appointed by the commissioner, 1 of whom shall be a teacher in a district of 15,000 or more students who has had experience in a level 4 or 5 school that has utilized data to successfully improve student performance, and 2 members with professional experience and knowledge in the area of data collection, quality and usage in establishing public policy.
(b) The data advisory commission shall report annually on its progress to the board of elementary and secondary education, the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate, the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education and the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means by December 1. The report shall include recommendations to achieve the requirements of this section. The department may, in consultation with the data advisory committee, develop or procure the data collection and reporting system described in subsection (a).
SECTION 7. Not later than July 1, 2019 the commissioner of the department of education shall develop an implementation plan for purposes of informing the FY 2021 budget on recommendations made by the 2015 foundation budget review commission report relative to converting the English learner increase from a base rate to an increment on the base rate, and increasing the low-income increment component of the foundation budget calculation in order to best serve low-income students and English learner populations.
The commissioner shall work with an independent research consultant with proven experience in education data and public policy research to assist in the development of implementation models, which shall include:
(i) defining the foundation budget category for “low-income” and amount of increment attributable to low-income students for the purpose of calculating chapter 70 aid;
(ii) options for how districts may be grouped based on low-income enrollment for the purpose of calculating chapter 70 aid;
(iii) improvements to better align data with the executive office of health and human services for the purpose of counting low-income students, including options for improved identification methods, and efforts to encourage families to enroll in state assistance programs and ensure districts have appropriate information and outreach tools;
(iv) options for a distribution formula for holding harmless those districts the department recognizes were negatively impacted by changes made to the calculation of low-income students, including districts where the increased rate did not fully compensate for a lower number of students identified under the economically disadvantaged metric implemented in 2016;
(v) options for changing the English learner base rate to an increment in the chapter 70 formula beginning with the FY2021 budget, including recommendations on: (a) applying the middle school increment to all grade levels in the calculation of the English learner increment; (b) the degree to which the English learner increment should be differentiated based on the various levels of support required of English learners and (c) applying the increment to vocational school students;
(vi) types of interventions, supports and practices that have proven to be effective in improving performance for low-income students and English learners and have proven successful in closing the student achievement gap in districts with large populations of low-income students, including, but not limited to: instructional improvement; a study of staffing patterns and program offerings, and the costs incurred in providing such supports; and, models for offering sufficient guidance for supporting district and school decision-making relative to effective and efficient resource allocation.
Prior to issuing a final study, the commissioner shall hold not fewer than 2 public meetings and provide ample opportunity for public and stakeholder input relative to any initial findings.
The implementation plan, together with any recommendations and findings, shall be filed with the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on education not later than July 1, 2019; provided a copy shall be made publicly available on the website of the department of elementary and secondary education.
SECTION 8. Subject to appropriation, the commissioner of the department of education shall hire an independent research consultant with proven experience in results-driven, education data analysis and public policy research in order to assist with the implementation of section 6 of this act.
SECTION 9. Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, shall take effect on December 31, 2019.
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