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 inserting, in line 64, after the definition of “District” or “School district”, the following:
“English learner increment”, the additional amount allotted within a district’s foundation budget for additional services for students identified as English learners; provided, however, that the value of the increment for fiscal year 2020 shall be added to the total rate for each enrollment category as follows: $1,177.18 for pre-school and half day kindergarten, and $2,354.36 for all other enrollment categories and shall be adjusted annually thereafter by the foundation inflation index
SECTION 4. Said section 2 of said chapter 70, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 65-103, the definition of “Enrollment categories” and inserting in place thereof, the following:-
''Enrollment categories'', each student, including students enrolled in special education programs, and students attending a school in another district, pursuant to the provisions of section twelve B of chapter seventy-six, who resides in the district and who attends either a public school in that district or a school for which the district of residence pays tuition, shall be placed in one and only one of the following enrollment categories depending on the grade and program to which the student is assigned:
(A) ''Elementary enrollment'', number of students enrolled in grades one through five and not enrolled in bilingual or vocational programs in a district.
(B) “English learner enrollment”, the number of students identified as English learners pursuant to chapter 71A, including students enrolled in vocational and technical schools.
(C) ''High school enrollment'', the number of students enrolled in grades nine through twelve and not enrolled in bilingual or vocational programs in a district.
(D) ''Junior high/middle school enrollment'', the number of students enrolled in grades six through eight and not enrolled in bilingual or vocational programs in a district.
(E) ''Kindergarten enrollment'', the number of students enrolled in kindergarten and not enrolled in bilingual or vocational programs in a district; provided, however, that in any district in which kindergarten students attend school for a full day, the foundation kindergarten enrollment used to calculate the foundation budget amount described in this section shall be two times the kindergarten enrollment number that would otherwise be used for said calculations if said district and all towns responsible for appropriating for said district so request.
(F) ''Pre-school enrollment'', the number of students enrolled in pre-school programs run in connection with the special education program in a district. The foundation pre-school enrollment may not exceed twice the number of pre-school students enrolled under approved individual education plans.
(G) ''Vocational enrollment'', the number of students enrolled in vocational and occupational education programs or an agricultural school in a district.
SECTION 5. 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 6. 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 7. 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 8. 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, 18, 19, 44, 83 and 115 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, for funding increments for English language learners and low-income students, and for 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 9. In order to best serve low-income students, subject to legislative review, the department shall recommend an updated foundation budget definition for “low-income” that ensures all children eligible for free and reduced lunch are included and establish an amount of increment attributable to low-income students for the purpose of calculating chapter 70 aid. Said amount shall not be less than 50% of the average per pupil expenditure for the decile with the lowest percentage of low-income students and shall increase with each subsequent decile.
The department shall make improvements to align data with the executive office of health and human services for the purpose of counting low-income students, including improved identification methods, and shall improve outreach efforts for the purpose of enrolling families in state assistance programs and ensure districts have appropriate information and outreach tools.
The department shall submit a comprehensive, long-term plan for holding harmless those districts that were negatively impacted by changes made to the calculation of low-income students.
SECTION 10. Chapter 70 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 15, the following section:-
Section 16. In order to promote the legislative intent of this chapter assuring fair per student funding for public schools in the commonwealth, there is hereby established the Student Supports Fund for the purpose of providing schools and school districts serving high percentages of low-income students additional supports and flexibility to develop classroom programming that best meets individual student needs; provided, that funding shall be available to any eligible school or school district by application of a school superintendent, principal or classroom teacher; provided further, that funds may be expended for the purchase of instructional materials under section 57 of chapter 15 of the General Laws that is part of a comprehensive plan to align the school or district curriculum with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks; provided further, that preference in distributing funds may be given to proposals that coordinate district-wide reform efforts; provided further, that the department shall issue a report not later than January 1, 2020 outlining all Student Supports Fund efforts funded by this item; provided further, that the report shall be provided to the senate president, the speaker of the house, the chairs of the house and senate ways and means committees, and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education; provided further, that for the purposes of this item, appropriated funds may be expended for programs or activities during the summer months; provided further, that any funds distributed from this item to a city, town or regional school district shall be deposited with the treasurer of such city, town or regional school district and held in a separate account and shall be expended by the school committee of such city, town or regional school district without further appropriation, notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary.
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