AFT Massachusetts Statement on Education Committee School Funding Bill

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The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education released the “Student Opportunity Act,” their proposed legislation to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission and increase state funding for local schools.

“While it will take time to fully analyze the education funding bill announced on September 19th, the funding provisions appear to be a major victory for our students and our schools!” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Thanks to everyone who rallied, wrote letters, or called your legislators.”

Here are a few highlights of the bill:

  • By the time it’s fully phased in, the bill will increase Chapter 70 state aid to local school districts by $1.4 billion/year over and above inflation.
  • The bill addresses all four major recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission: educating students who have disabilities, are English learners, or are from low-income families, and managing the rising cost of health insurance for staff.
  • The bill will expand the state’s special education reimbursement program (circuit breaker) with an estimated annual cost of $90 million to include out-of-district transportation funding.
  • The bill will increase the annual spending cap for Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) projects by $150 million to $750 million.

However, we are concerned about language in the bill that would give unaccountable state bureaucrats the authority to approve/reject local spending plans. We support more transparency, but taking away local autonomy & stripping power from local school committees is unacceptable.

We will continue to review the bill and work to ensure that the final legislation that is signed into law doesn't include provisions that hurt local control and democratic accountability

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The Fund Our Future campaign issued the following statement regarding the public K-12 school funding bill released by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education:

“We are cautiously optimistic about the thoughtful legislation released by the Joint Committee on Education. We need to fully examine the details, of course, but a much deserved victory is within reach for thousands of educators, parents, students, and community members who wrote letters, marched in the streets, and continue to demand quality, well-funded public schools for every student in Massachusetts. A full analysis is needed and much work still needs to be done to make this bill one we can all be proud of, but we thank the members of the Committee for their commitment to a more equitable public school system.”

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The Fund Our Future campaign was formed to end the generation-long underfunding of local public schools and public colleges and universities in Massachusetts and is endorsed by the following members: Act on Mass, AFT Massachusetts, Alliance for Brookline Schools, Asian American Resource Workshop, Boston Democratic Socialists of America (BDSA), Boston Education Equity Coalition, Boston Education Justice Alliance, Boston Teachers Union, CEPA at UMass Amherst, Citizens for Public Schools, College Dems of MA, Hampshire Franklin Labor Council, Interfaith Worker Justice, JALSA, Jewish Labor Committee, La Communidad, La Voz de la Comunidad – Framingham, Local 26 Unite Here, Lowell Education Justice Alliance, Mass COSH, Massachusetts Communities Action Network , Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts Voter Table, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, MNA, NAACP New England Area Conference, North Shore Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Street Heat, Progressive Massachusetts, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), PUMA Parent Union of Mass, QUEST (Quality Education for Every Student), Revere Youth in Action, SEIU 888, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Tikkun Olam Congregation Bnai Israel Northampton, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Women Encouraging Empowerment, and Youth on Board.