The early aughts were a boom time in Worcester Public Schools. The district offered afterschool programs, free pre-kindergarten and career pathway training in high school. These are all programs the district thought worked for boosting opportunities and achievement for low-income students.

But in 2004, as the cost of teachers’ health benefits and special education started to balloon faster than revenue, the district started making drastic cuts.

Now, there are no afterschool programs, no pre-kindergarten. The district is starting to rebuild career training though, said Brian Allen, the chief financial officer of Worcester Public Schools.

Allen has pinned hopes of restoring these programs on efforts at the State House to increase funding for Massachusetts schools. The bills, which are scheduled to get a legislative hearing Friday, take similar approaches to addressing the problems all districts have: skyrocketing special education and health insurance costs. Where they differ is on the funding prescribed for districts like Worcester that educate large numbers of low-income students and how to pay for it.

Based on Allen’s analysis, Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill (H70) would add a total of $34.9 million over seven years to Worcester’s school coffers. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz’s bill (S238) would add $101.3 million over an undetermined period. Allen says there isn’t enough detail in Rep. Paul Tucker’s bill (H576) to determine its total financial impact on the district.

Baker’s bill adds less money specifically for low-income students. In Worcester’s case, the bill would add about $800 per low-income student over seven years, totaling $11.5 million. That’s compared to the Senate bill, which would add approximately $4,251 per low-income student, more than doubling what Worcester receives now. Under this plan, the city’s schools would receive $72.7 million more for low-income students, although it’s not clear how quickly that money would be disbursed.

Worcester receives about 70 percent of its education funding from the state and is representative of other so-called gateway cities such as Springfield, Lawrence, Chelsea and Brockton, where incomes and property values are low.

Graphic: Molly Boigon/WGBH News

Allen calls all the bills “a good start,” but prefers the Senate bill for the extra money it targets for supporting the education of low-income students — even if it’s over a longer period.

“It’s a big difference. And I’m interested in hearing more about the wide gap between those numbers,” Allen said, referring to the Senate’s and governor’s bills. “It suggests a difference in priorities or a different estimate of what’s needed.”

From the governor, Allen wants to know if he based low-income payments on “just resources available to the state” or whether there’s some research behind the increase.

The question of how much more the state should spend educating poor students has vexed legislators before and will likely be the subject of great debate. The 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission recommended that school districts spend more money to close achievement gaps for low-income students — between 50 and 100 percent of the base rate. The base rate for an elementary school student this year was $7,763.

“The final decision should provide high-poverty school districts with enough funding to pursue several turnaround strategies at once,” the commission recommended.

Graphic: Molly Boigon/WGBH News

The recommendation raises questions for lawmakers and some advocates.

“Fifty to 100 percent is a pretty wide range and disparity,” said Edward Lambert, the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. “We think more effort could be put in to how much that number should be. It could be more than the governor’s bill it could be less than the senate bill.”

Baker has emphasized that his bill’s total spending would be covered by existing revenues and wouldn’t require raising taxes. Chang-Diaz, on the other hand, says her bill, which would cost over $1 billion, could be covered by a combination of existing revenue and new revenue streams, which have yet to be identified.

Our coverage of K-12 education is made possible with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.