By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury’s Legislative delegation, State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and State Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), presented a legislative update relative to public education to the School Committee at their Sept. 12 meeting.
School Committee Chair Jason Palitsch opened their presentation by congratulating both Kane and Moore on their efforts to expedite the successful legislative process of conveying the Glavin Center, located at 214 Lake St., to the town for use as the site for the new Beal School Building project.
Moore reported that Chapter 70 funding came in with an addition $30 increase in aid per pupil. This is an increase of $161 million or 3.4 percent over FY18.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, www.doe.mass.edu/finance/chapter70/fy2019/chapter-19.html, this translates to an increase of $181,320 for Shrewsbury.
According to Kane, August is typically a slow time for the State Legislature and everyone is just now getting back in the swing of things.
Presently, however, both houses have produced different versions of the Foundation Budget and the gap in funding could not be reconciled at the close of session. This was a disappointment to both houses, but there is an agreement by both chambers and both parties to move forward in the coming year. At issue is the timeline of process and available funding.
“As part of the budget process there were two line items that the senator and I were able to advocate for,” Kane said. “One was for $50,000 to Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and that was so they could continue the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training program.”
The other line item was for $50,000 for the town to fund a feasibility study for an Emergency Communications System.
Out-of-district pupil transportation funding continues to be an issue that the delegation continues to work together and advocate for, primarily, parity between out-of-district and regional transportation.
“We have a bill right now in the House which seeks to give towns the ability to charge a bus fee for those students who are being bused out-of-district…It makes sense that we all are contributing to busing,” Kane said.
Committee member Sandy Fryc agreed that it would not be popular, but it would be fair.
State revenue is up by about $53 million over benchmark in July and August which comes on the heels of FY18 closing out at about $1.1 million over benchmark.
Governor Charles Baker has filed supplemental legislation in the amount of $70 million, which will, if passed, fund projects including school safety and mental health programs.
After a discussion of the challenges of funding vocational education so that the supply meets the demand, the delegation outlined some provisions for mitigation but agreed that more needs to be done.