House Ways and Means Budget Proposes Largest Chapter 70 Aid in a Decade

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The House Ways and Means budget proposes the largest increase in Chapter 70 local school aid in a decade, according to a Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents memo.

The fiscal 2020 budget funds Chapter 70 at $5.125 billion, a 4.5 percent increase over this fiscal year and $17.7 million more than Gov. Charlie Baker included in his budget, according to the memo from Tom Scott and Roger Hatch of the superintendents’ association. The State House News Service says Rep. Alyson Sullivan, a first-term Abington Republican, filed an amendment that would boost the Chapter 70 total by $100 million.

House leadership’s budget includes a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil. According to MASS, 182 of 318 operating school districts receive the minimum, with 136 receiving foundation aid in excess of that amount.

Baker, alongside his budget, filed a bill revamping the Chapter 70 formula to address major cost drivers like special education and health care, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo has indicated he wants to let the Education Committee continue vetting various reform proposals.

The extra education dollars in the House Ways and Means budget, including a new $16.5 million reserve account for districts with high percentages of low-income students, represent an initial investment toward an eventual funding overhaul that would take multiple years to implement. Baker’s proposal contemplates a seven-year phase-in period.

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