Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, Quincy and Rockland will see increases in local funding over the next seven years
BOSTON – On Thursday, October 3, the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed the Student Opportunity Act, voting to invest an unprecedented $1.5 billion dollars in public education across the Commonwealth. Following years of discussion on how to improve public school funding in Massachusetts, this bill makes significant new investments in employee health care costs and special education, and provides additional funds for low-income students and English language learners.
“The best stock we have in our future is in the education of our children, and this bill represents the Commonwealth’s commitment to high-quality, equitable education for all,” said Senator John Keenan (D – Quincy). “I am proud today to stand with students, teachers, advocates, and my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill that will provide all our students, regardless of income or zip-code, the tools and foundation they need to succeed.”
The Student Opportunity Act fully implements recommendations from the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), a state commission assembled to identify ways Massachusetts can provide more adequate and equitable funding for public schools. Based on guidance from the FBRC, as well as from teachers, students, administrators, school committees, and advocates throughout the state, the bill reworks the school finance formula to provide greater funding to schools, especially those serving high percentages of low-income students. The bill also includes increased funding for transportation, school buildings, and special education.
“This historic level of investment in our schools was made possible by the many students, teachers, administrators, school committees, parents, and advocates who worked tirelessly to underscore the need for more equitable school funding in Massachusetts,” said Senator Keenan.
The bill invests $1.5 billion dollars in new money into the public school system over a seven-year time frame. Most of that new investment – $1.4 billion – will be in the form of Chapter 70 aid for local school districts, $90 million will be used to include transportation costs in the state’s special education reimbursement program, and $10 million will support a new trust fund aimed at promoting innovation in education.
The bill also seeks to deliver high-quality education by:
- Fully funding charter tuition reimbursements.
- Expanding over four years the special education circuit breaker, which reimburses districts for extraordinary special education costs, to include transportation costs in addition to instructional cost.
- Raising the annual cap on Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) spending for construction and renovation, enabling more projects across the state to be accepted into the MSBA funding pipeline.
- Increasing foundation rates for guidance and psychological services in recognition of the growing need for expanded social-emotional support and mental health services.
“I’d like to thank Chairs Jason Lewis and Alice Peisch, as well as the entire Committee on Education for delivering an education funding bill that will serve to provide quality education for generations of students to come,” said Senator Keenan.
The bill now awaits a vote in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. From there, it will go to the Governor’s desk for approval.
If you have any questions on the Senate budget, please contact Senator John Keenan’s office at 617-722-1494 or by email at John.Keenan@masenate.gov.