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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Governor's Budget Recommendation

Education and Training

The Commonwealth's new public education and training system will create a seamless education continuum to ensure that all residents have access to high quality education and training, from kindergarten through post-graduate school, and into the workplace.

With a unified system of education and training, the Commonwealth will be able to maximize resources and respond effectively to the varied educational and training needs of Massachusetts residents and businesses. The new system will coordinate policy development; strengthen links between the business and academic communities; bridge gaps between academic and vocational education, and K-12 and higher education programs; and strengthen our commitment to the Education Reform Act of 1993 by freeing municipalities and school districts from burdensome state mandates that undermine their ability to graduate students who meet the stringent education goals established in the Act.

In Fiscal Year 1997, Education and Training will achieve its mission by pursuing the following objectives: To ensure a seamless education continuum, the Weld/Cellucci Administration will create a new two board structure: the Board of Education and Training, and the Board of Higher Education, staffed by the Office of Education and Training. Beginning on January 1, 1997, the Office, along with the two new boards, will replace the current Executive Office of Education, the Higher Education Coordinating Council, the Department of Education, the Board of Education, the Massjobs Council, and a multitude of job training and workforce development programs currently administered through several secretariats. The current system has led to program and administrative duplication, wasted resources, and because of its many points of entry, has become confusing to the consumer.

The Board of Education and Training will continue the progress of the Education Reform Act of 1993 by instituting reforms to develop and strengthen the K-12 system. These reforms will allow all students equal access to educational resources, fostering excellence and achieving results. To ensure that each school district provides for an education that develops a core set of learning skills for each student, the Board will focus on directing outcomes, not dictating process or micro-managing programs. To do so, the Board will implement a $65.7 million block grant. A block grant affords local school districts the ability to build programs that can address their unique concerns. The Board of Education and Training will also develop and implement a plan to provide low income families with opportunity vouchers to attend private schools, as well as implement an open-enrollment program, and eliminate the caps suppressing charter school creation, which will allow parents unlimited access to all types of educational opportunities. In addition, the Board will strive for more flexibility for municipalities by allowing them to craft school governance structures appropriate to their circumstances.

The Board of Education and Training will also reform the current myriad state-run job training programs to meet the needs of Massachusetts business and industries. A network of nine Regional Employment Boards will replace the existing sixteen Regional Employment Boards and will create and implement workforce development policy at the local level. These boards will utilize the expertise of local, private sector led policy bodies to tackle complex workforce development issues. This effort will center around the continued implementation of privately operated One-Stop Career Centers where both individuals and employers benefit from a comprehensive array of training and job search services. Customers requiring skills development will be provided vouchers for appropriate training. In addition, the consolidated workforce development program and job training delivery system will aid welfare reform by improving the Commonwealth's ability to provide recipients of Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children with the skills to facilitate their entry or re-entry into the workforce. The focus of the training programs will be driven by regional economic needs, as articulated by the Regional Employment Boards, and will upgrade job-skills required now and in the future to help attract more businesses to Massachusetts.

The success of the One-Stop Career Centers program will depend upon early implementation of a consolidated worker training federal grant. Massachusetts has been recognized as a leader in workforce development initiatives and will aggressively pursue a waiver from the federal government to allow the Commonwealth to operate a pilot program in Fiscal Year 1997 with nation-wide implementation anticipated in Federal Fiscal Year 1998.

The Board of Higher Education will create a system to ensure access to high quality, affordable post-secondary education to its citizens. The Board will strive to delegate the management of the higher education campuses to the trustees, presidents, and staff and demand results through performance-based funding. Currently, the Higher Education Coordinating Council, the Executive Office of Education, and the three segments of the higher education system have worked at cross purposes. The current system has not produced the desired outcomes. To make the campuses more accountable, and reward those institutions that are innovative, the Board will implement two incentive funding programs: a $30 million incentive program to foster the development of mission specific programs, streamline current campus operations, and eliminate duplicative programs; and a $20 million matching grant to encourage campuses to generate local revenues through private fundraising. In addition to campus funding initiatives, the Board will oversee an aggressive privatization plan for campus functions and services, such as plant operation and maintenance, administrative services, and student services. These reforms will enable campuses to compete with the finest private institutions in the Commonwealth.

The Office of Education and Training will implement policy and program directives for the new system. The Office will better coordinate the transition from early childhood education through higher education, and/or into the workplace The Office will strive to enhance local control by eliminating mandates, and allowing municipalities to direct and control resources through new state block grants. The Board will accomplish this by developing minimum standards and qualifications, such as those for public school teachers, and allowing individual districts to create their own, more stringent standards, moving the state into an enforcement role rather than a licensing role, and promoting greater local flexibility and control.

The current education and training structure employs 208 full-time equivalent staff (FTEs). By the end of Fiscal Year 1997, the Office and two board structure will provide these services with approximately 115 FTEs.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended will fund all of the administrative and program costs for the Board of Education and Training, the Board of Higher Education, and the Office of Education and Training. In addition, because full implementation of this new structure will take effect on January 1, 1997, it will also provide funding for the Executive Office of Education, the Higher Education Coordinating Council, the Department of Education, the Board of Education, and the Massjobs Council through January 1, 1997.

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