Wareham state representative backs, lauds house bill seeking education funds

Jul 16, 2018

State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is backing a proposal to deliver more education aid to help address rising special education and health insurance costs.

House Bill 4730, An Act relative to findings of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, calls for adjusting the state’s Chapter 70 formula to increase funding for local school districts by approximately $500 million over a five-year period, beginning in 2019. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote of 148-0 on July 11.

“This bill is the roadmap toward implementation of something that has been a priority of mine for many years and that is fixing the broken school funding formula,” said Gifford. “While we have to do this in a phased approach…I am pleased that we will first be addressing two of the biggest concerns which are special education funding and health care benefits.”

A 2015 study by the Foundation Budget Review Commission estimated the state is underfunding public education by as much as $1-$2 billion per year. House Bill 4730 seeks to implement some of the Commission’s key recommendations in an attempt to establish a more equitable funding formula moving forward.

In addition to factoring in fixed costs related to special education services and health care benefits for school employees and retirees, House Bill 4730 directs the Department of Education to hire an independent research consultant to provide recommendations by Dec. 31, 2018 on how the Chapter 70 formula can be adjusted to better account for the number of English-language learners and low-income students in each school district.

House Bill 4730 also requires the state Education Commissioner to create a data advisory commission to streamline school reporting so that resources can be more effectively allocated at the local level. The commission will be responsible for filing an updated report every year by Dec. 1.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which previously approved its own education funding proposal on May 10.

Comments (2)
Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jul 17, 2018 13:26

Everybody voted for it, 148-0. Not news. Like she voted no on her raise but took the dough. This formula has needed change for a long time but the money never materializes to fix it. Follow along to see where this goes, and show us the money. Another commission and another study, what a surprise, while Wareham schools swirl down the drain.



Posted by: Peter W. Teitelbaum | Jul 18, 2018 13:17

Hats off to Rep. Williams Gifford for supporting this legislation.  Special education and health insurance costs are the two most uncontrollable items in the education budgeting process, and while the increased aid amounts discussed won’t meet all of the need for relief, at least this is a start.



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