An Act to Revive the Foundation Budget Review Commission (H457, S207)


Reconstitutes the Foundation Budget Review Commission, first established in the Education  Reform Act of 1993, to ensure that the foundation budget is reviewed at least once every 4 years and, if necessary, updated. The bill requires a review of the foundation budget and puts the Legislature in control of the process and outcome. The Commission is chaired by the Education Committee Co-Chairs.  As drafted, the Commission is required to complete its work by December 31, 2013.The charge of the Commission is to determine the educational programs and services necessary to achieve the commonwealth’s educational goals, as well as to determine how resources can be used in the most effective manner.


Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz

Representative Alice Peisch


Two decades have passed since the Education Reform Act became law in 1993; over $4 billion in Chapter 70 state aid now goes to cities, towns and regional school districts every year. Yet, there has never been a systematic analysis of whether the schools have sufficient resources to enable students to meet state standards as embodied in the curriculum frameworks. The foundation budget, i.e., the amount set by the Chapter 70 formula that each school district needs to spend to provide an adequate education to its students, has not been updated in any significant way since it was first developed over 20 years ago. The foundation budget was calculated before the content standards of the Education Reform Act were established.  Today, every student is required to meet state education standards in order to graduate from high school, despite our schools still being required to be funded only at pre-framework levels.

Current Status

Joint Committee on Education has scheduled a hearing for October 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM in A-1

How Does Chapter 70 Funding Work? (From Mass Budget and Policy Center) 

Chapter 70 education aid is the Commonwealth’s primary program for distributing its portion of K-12 public education funding to the state’s 328 local and regional school districts. 1 The Chapter 70 formula aims to ensure that each school district has sufficient resources to provide an adequate education for all of its students, taking into account the ability of each local government to contribute. In short, the formula is designed to have an equalizing effect, with less wealthy districts receiving more state aid than wealthier ones.  Calculating the funding requires four steps:


The Massachusetts State Constitution requires that total K-12 spending in each district never falls below the amount needed to provide an adequate education to its students. Lawmakers developed the “foundation budget” as a way to calculate this funding level. A district’s foundation budget is determined by multiplying the number of students at each grade level and demographic group (e.g., low-income and limited English proficiency students) by a set of education spending categories (e.g., teacher compensation, professional development, building maintenance), and then adding together those total dollar amounts.


Once the total foundation budget is established, the state calculates each city and town’s ability to contribute local revenue towards the operation of its schools. Local ability to contribute varies widely based upon the incomes and property values of different cities and towns. The state expects that each municipality can contribute the same share of local resources to the foundation budget by setting uniform contribution rates. In FY 2011, for example, local contributions were determined by adding 0.3 percent of each town’s total property values to 1.4 percent of the income earned by residents of the town.  The required local contribution is basically a measure of how much local tax revenue a city or town can reasonably raise and dedicate to the operation of its schools.


Chapter 70 education aid is then determined by filling the gap between a district’s required local contribution and its foundation budget. Calculating state aid from the difference between steps 1 and 2 ensures that every district can fund the total baseline education determined appropriate by the foundation budget.


The required local contribution is only a minimum amount that cities and towns must contribute to their school districts, and many wealthier communities opt to contribute significantly more. For this reason, the Chapter 70 formula provides a baseline school budget, but it does not ensure equitable total funding across the state.

Read more about how Chapter 70 funding formula creates inequities across the state.

Check out your own town where it stands.

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