State Sen. L’Italien Joins Bipartisan Group Pushing For Education Aid Boost
Mar 07, 2016 01:49PM
By Bill Gilman
State Semator Barbara L'Italien
BOSTON – Sen. Barbara L’Italien has joined a broad coalition of more than 70 lawmakers pushing for an increase in school aid under the state’s education funding formula.
In a letter sent to House and Senate budget makers this week, Sen. L’Italien advocated for a boost in minimum per pupil aid to help local school districts that may not otherwise qualify for additional funding.
Under Gov. Charlie Baker’s state budget proposal, Chapter 70 education funding would increase by an average of less than one percent for more than 200 school districts. That translates to an increase of about $20 per pupil, a reduction from the 2016 Chapter 70 funding increase of $25 per pupil.
Sen. L’Italien has already heard from school officials in her district who are unhappy with the governor’s education funding proposal.
“Typically we have provided more of an education funding boost than the governor is proposing, and school districts have come to rely on that,” said Sen. L’Italien, who represents the communities of Andover, Lawrence, Tewksbury and Dracut. “I feel strongly that we need to make education funding more of a priority and give our public schools what they need to at least maintain existing services.”
Under the current Chapter 70 formula, the vast majority of school districts across Massachusetts receive only minimal increases each year. These school districts face rising expenses every year, however, to maintain existing services. Most of the drivers of annual cost increases -- such as rising energy and health care rates, contractual obligations and state and federal testing mandates -- are beyond the control of local districts and local decision-makers.
Sen. L’Italien is one of 73 Democratic and Republican senators and state representatives who have written a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey and Senate Way and Means Committee Chairman Karen Spilka requesting a larger minimum aid increase that the governor’s $20 per pupil proposal. The lawmakers are asking for an increase of $50 per pupil over this year. An increase of that amount would represent an overall increase of $20.2 million over the governor’s budget proposal.
“This modest and achievable increase will realize a significant boost in local aid to our school districts and help offset what is still likely to be a challenging year,” according to the bipartisan letter signed by senators and state representatives.
The FY2017 state budget proposal is expected to be released this spring and will be finalized by July. Details on the state budget are available online at malegislature.gov/budget.
Here are the funding impacts to school districts in Andover, Tewksbury, Dracut and Lawrence under Gov. Baker’s $20 per pupil increase proposal as well as increasing it to various levels. The governor’s proposal is in italics. Sen. L’Italien’s recommendations are in bold. The amounts represent proposed increases to Chapter 70 current year funding.