Dear Tri-Town Residents:
Did you contact your elected state officials regarding the importance of funding education and, in particular, of funding regional school district transportation? You must have, because better proposals have been made recently. So, thank you.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ House Ways and Means Committee recently released their proposed 2018 budget. In it, they recommend an additional $15 million more than Governor Baker’s budget for education programs, also known as “Chapter 70.” Included in that increase was an additional one million dollars for regional school transportation (the Governor’s budget didn’t provide any new funds for regional transportation).* Even if this increase passes, the State will not meet its promise of 100% reimbursement for regional school districts’ transportation costs (beyond 1.5 miles). However, this increase does at least address the reduction that would have occurred if no additional funds had been allocated due to higher costs of transportation. (If costs go up, but funding does not, that means our local school is paying the difference.)
In addition, both the Governor’s and the House Ways and Means’ budgets allocate an additional $40 million for the “municipal aid account” to help cities and towns fund projects, which may free up additional resources for schools, if a town so chooses.*
Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, though. The process is not over. There are many other groups regularly lobbying for funding, so if education is important to you, you must let your state officials know it right now. Please call or email them to tell them your priorities. Contact information for all elected officials is available on the MA Legislature’s website (https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator).
Thank you so much for your continued support of education in the Tri-Town.
Heather Burke, Marion
*Source = “Legislative bulletin,” MASC, April 11, 2017
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