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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lesson of the Day for DESE. It's a Doozy.

The new state senators and representatives were sworn in today and here is a video and link about the issues in education funding facing these legislators. One senator said:

"It's going to be a challenge," said Sen. Victor Callahan, an Independence Democrat.

"We'll have to make a lot of cuts in different areas."
Callahan, the Senate minority leader, said the state probably won't be able to fully fund classrooms as required by state law.

This last sentence is particularly important and expresses the gravity of the financial situation the Legislature is facing. The Legislature is mandated by law to balance the budget, even in poor financial years.

What is DESE's view on the budget shortfall? It's quite stunning:

In its funding request to Nixon's budget office, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sought state money to fill the hole left by the federal stimulus money, plus a $255 million increase to fully fund the school aid formula.

This is a fascinating request from Chris Nicastro. DESE wants the state to fill a federal money hole created by one time stimulus funds and another $255 million the state doesn't have. I didn't read anything about DESE employing budget cutting measures and working within reality.

The legislators have a tough job making cuts and it's difficult to believe DESE is actually asking for additional funds that don't exist. Legislators have a duty to produce a workable budget. They are not magicians and they don't print money.

That's the lesson of the day for DESE.

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