For the third-straight year in a row, Revere Public Schools will be struggling to fill the gaps in its budget due to changes in the way the state calculates its funding formula, particularly with regard to ‘economically disadvantaged’ students.
That frustration is shared across districts like Revere, including Everett, Chelsea and Brockton. That is why Brockton and Worcester recently filed a lawsuit against the state that challenges the funding formula used by the state last month.
Supt. Dianne Kelly said they likely would look to those schools as leaders, but likely wouldn’t join in.
“I think Brockton and Worcester are going to be the lead districts, but we certainly believe in what they’re fighting for…When superintendents have to spend four months of the year fighting up at the State House for what should be a no-brainer – to fund economically disadvantaged students – it doesn’t help the schools.”
Kelly said one the state made a concession this year on the economically disadvantaged status, but then walked it back by underfunding each student. The change resulted in more than 700 new students being listed as economically disadvantaged in Revere. Typically, that would have resulted in more state funding per pupil, but the pending budget has slashed the funding for those students- making it a zero gain.
“We did get more than 700 students added to that category this year,” she said. “However, the governor’s budget slashed the per pupil reimbursement for students of low income by $3,500. The net result is it’s a zero-sum game, even though the state acknowledges there are more than 700 new economically disadvantaged students here that they weren’t counting before.”
She added that when the economically disadvantaged change went into effect in 2015, it sunk Revere’s number to 37.4 percent. This year, that number is up to 52 percent.
“That additional amount of students in a one-year time frame is a lot; that’s 10 percent of the district,” she said.
Kelly was part of an op-ed recently penned by several school administrators from districts most hampered by the changes, including Revere’s neighboring superintendent, Chelsea’s Supt. Mary Bourque.
Bourque said recently that the situation, which has gone on for three years, is the issue of our times.
“The equitable funding of public education is the civil rights struggle of our times,” she said.