McKee focuses on meeting Massachusetts’ education levels in budget proposal

This is a file image of a teacher with students. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Gov. Dan McKee released his fiscal year 2024 budget proposal Thursday, saying he aims to make progress towards Rhode Island’s 2030 goals and improving educational outcomes to compete with Massachusetts’ levels.

Of the $13.75 billion budget proposal, McKee plans to increase year over year K to 12 education funding by $57.8 million.

Those increases covering $9.9 million towards student success to support districts for economically disadvantaged students.

“Every dollar counts at this point for us to continue to support the students at the districts,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.

The K through 12 funding formula includes $2.5 million to students experiencing homelessness, $7.9 million to the public schools choice of supplemental transition fund compensating districts for enrollment losses to charter schools, $8.5 million to temporary enrollment transitional support, and 13.1 million towards categorical funding.

The proposal also honing in on replicating Massachusetts’ educational successes. Here in Rhode Island, “We’re always looking for Massachusetts as the North Star,” said Infante-Green.

“Everybody does not just us. They’re the highest performing state in the nation, so we’re looking to replicate a lot of the things that they have done,” she added. “What is going to take for us to get there? Not just academically but other factors that Massachusetts has put in place to where they are right now.”

When asked if losing enrollment to charter schools would cause the already short-staffed Providence Public School District to have to reduce the amount of teachers and staff, Infante-Green said, “We’re not there yet.”

“That is not where we are. We actually need teachers. So, we’re lucky enough to not have that problem at this point. We’re not anticipating that right now,” the commissioner said. “I don’t see any of that right now. Right now, we’re in a good place, so I don’t foresee that as being an option for us at this point.”

The proposal for the fiscal year begins July 1. Until then, legislators will take the next few months to determine the final budget.

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