House’s $1.5B Education Funding Reform Bill Is ‘Outstanding News for Haverhill,’ Says Vargas

State Rep. Andy X. Vargas. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Massachusetts House on Wednesday night unanimously approved a seven-year plan to pour $1.5 billion into the state’s public education system, moving legislation that has been the subject of persistent and passionate advocacy a step closer to the governor’s desk.

Planned investments to support low-income students and English learners are a focal point of the bill—which state Rep. Andy Vargas, who sits on the Education Committee—says is a huge win for his home city of Haverhill.

“In Haverhill, half of our students are low-income. The funding in this bill is vital for every student, but especially for the kids that rely on our education system to give them a fair shot in life,” Vargas told WHAV in a statement of the bill, dubbed the Student Opportunity Act.

Praising the overall bill as a “once-in-a-generation change,” Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said her union “will keep the pressure on in support of the Senate’s language” if the bill goes to a conference committee. Najimy said the Senate language “promotes greater input from parents and educators “the real experts on what students need.”

The bill also lets school districts obtain reimbursements for transporting students to out-of-district special education placements, fully funds charter school reimbursements and raises the cap on state funding for school building projects.

Once the bill moves forward to a conference committee, Gov. Charlie Baker has 10 days to sign the bill into law.

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