$1.5 Billion Pledged to Commonwealth Schools over Next 7 Years
BOSTON –State Senator Nick Collins and the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed the Student Opportunity Act, an unprecedented $1.5 billion new investment in Massachusetts K-12 public education. This legislation ensures public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, this bill could provide between $75-$115 million to the City of Boston, and $2.2 billion statewide. The Student Opportunity Act significantly helps school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, including the Boston Public School system.
“With the passage of the Student Opportunity Act, the Senate is reaffirming its commitment to the idea that providing a quality public education is not a luxury—it is both our greatest responsibility and our greatest opportunity as a state,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).
Taking into account these new investments, policy updates, and the needs of all types of districts, the Student Opportunity Act creates new ways to monitor and measure progress, support effective approaches to closing opportunity gaps, and deliver results for all students.
“I was proud to vote for this unprecedented investment in local education,” said Senator Nick Collins. “The State has demonstrated its commitment to Boston Public Schools over the past decade, but this bill really ramps up the investments. In addition to the $222 million in baseline education funds, and the $202 million in unrestricted aid we allocate for City schools, it is clear that the Commonwealth is dedicated to a quality education for all students. What could possibly be more important than investing in the future of our young people?”
The Student Opportunity Act fully implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) ensuring that the school funding formula provides adequate and equitable funding to all districts across the state. The bill modernizes the K-12 education by:
- Increasing special education cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment.
- Increasing funding for English Language Learners
- Providing additional funding based on the share of low-income students in each district
- Defining “low-income” at 185% of the Federal Poverty Level, as opposed to the current 133% level
In addition to implementing the FBRC’s recommended formula changes, the Student Opportunity Act provides additional state financial support in several categories to help public schools and communities deliver a high-quality education to every student. Those fiscal supports include:
- Increasing foundation rates for guidance and psychological services in recognition of the growing need for expanded social-emotional support and mental health services.
- A commitment to fully funding charter school tuition reimbursement, which provide transitional aid to help districts when students leave to attend charter schools, within a three-year timetable.
- 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 by $200 million.
The bill passed 39-0 and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.