BOSTON - State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) and State Representative Denis E. Guyer (D- Dalton) today announced the passage of S. 2247, An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap by the Massachusetts Legislature, which contains an amendment aimed at protecting Regional School Transportation funding.
Under Chapter 71 of the current laws, all regional school districts are required to provide transportation for pupils with the costs to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth. In order to balance the Commonwealth's budget, Governor Deval Patrick used his 9C authority to cut the Regional School Transportation line item in October by 50% this fiscal year, and 63% from Fiscal Year 2009. No cuts were made to Chapter 70 education aid. This cut has since been restored.
This final version of the bill contains an amendment which makes future cuts to regional school transportation more difficult by preventing any cut of greater percentage than a corresponding reduction in Chapter 70 funding. Under Chapter 71, regional school districts may not seek additional contributions from member towns to cover unanticipated budget reductions.
"Thanks to the efforts of myself along with other the members of the Berkshire delegation, this important amendment to protect regional schools was included in the final version of this bill," said Guyer. "This amendment will ensure that any cut to education is not felt in a disproportionate way by regional schools, especially in Western Massachusetts."
"This education reform package ensures equal footing and protection to the regional school transportation account with other Local Aid assistance accounts in future state operating budgets, beginning with FY 2011," said Downing. "This is a victory for the regional school districts serving families and communities across western Massachusetts; it provides realistic budgeting guidelines, expectations and security for regional school administrators."
The bill now moves to the desk of Governor Patrick to be signed into law.