SENATE REJECTS TO RAISE MINIMUM EDUCATION AID TO CITIES AND TOWNS

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 7-32, rejected an amendment that would increase the minimum Chapter 70 education aid each city and town receives from $30 per pupil to $100 per pupil.

Amendment supporters said that despite the $268 million increase in education aid in the budget, more than 180 school districts would see a hike of only $30 per student this year. They argued that the $30 figure is unfair and insufficient for those districts’ needs.

“There are suburban and rural communities that are unfairly represented in the chapter 70 education funding formula and rely upon minimum aid funding per student in the state budget,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster). “One hundred and eighty-two districts across the commonwealth are minimum aid districts with declining student enrollment and $100 per student would have adequately helped these districts which suffer from a broken education funding mechanism.”

“I was encouraged by the Senate’s commitment to invest in our public school system,” said Sen. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “However, the Senate’s $300 million investment would have had a minimal effect on the communities I represent. As minimum aid communities they would benefit most from a higher per pupil commitment. By spending $100 per pupil the Senate would have been able to better meet the budget needs of my communities and the educational goals of their students.”

Some amendment opponents said that even districts receiving the minimum will still see an increase in Chapter 70 aid next year. They noted that the education aid in the Senate is significantly higher than the plan proposed by Gov. Baker and the one approved by the House last month. Others said the Senate should tackle the broader issue of school funding through legislation now pending that will update and make major changes in the school funding formula.

“The Senate fiscal year 2020 budget provides $268 million more in Chapter 70 funding to our local school districts than in fiscal year 2019, the largest annual increase in two decades,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) who opposed the amendment. “This budget also makes significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, in order to ensure that our public schools are adequately and equitably funded so that every student across the commonwealth has access to a great education.”

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