Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Denise C. Garlick, House Chair
The Honorable Jason M. Lewis, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Education
State House, Boston
Dear Chair Garlick, Chair Lewis, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,
On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing in strong support of H. 3567 and S. 2388, An Act to provide a sustainable future for rural schools. These bills would address several challenges that are unique to rural schools, as well as provide resources that would further strengthen all K-12 school districts in the Commonwealth.
First, we want to express our gratitude for the Legislature’s commitment to increasing K-12 public education aid through the landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA) passed in 2019. Through this historic bill, significant investments have been made through increases for in-district special education rates, increases in Special Education Circuit Breaker, as well as the critically important inclusion of student transportation reimbursement under the Special Education Circuit Breaker program. We also applaud the Legislature’s leadership in keeping the SOA on schedule, despite considerable fiscal uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Student Opportunity Act was a comprehensive commitment, the unique issues facing rural schools needed to be further studied to inform future policy changes. Keeping that commitment, the Legislature created the Special Legislative Commission on the Fiscal Health of Rural School Districts. In July 2022, the Commission issued its report, A Sustainable Future for Rural Schools, from which the proposed legislation was drafted.
H. 3567 and S. 2388 would target many of the outstanding challenges facing rural schools, including codifying Rural School Aid and providing the necessary funds to support the long-term fiscal health of rural school districts. The legislation would also fully fund extraordinary transportation costs between home and school, while also creating a fund to assist districts with significant and ongoing enrollment decline.
In addition to the specific focus on rural school districts, H. 3567 and S. 2388 would enhance important areas that can benefit all districts. The proposed legislation would direct the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to relieve districts of the financial burden of closing and/or transitioning a school building when a school closes as part of a regionalization effort. Further, the bills would fully fund out-of-district vocational education transportation (an account that has historically been underfunded), as well as increase the percentage reimbursement for special education costs, which includes transportation.
These important bills would create a more sustainable system in Massachusetts, and ensure that all students, regardless of where they live in the Commonwealth, will have the same opportunities and programs they deserve. We respectfully urge the Committee to report out H. 3567 and S. 2388 with a favorable report.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please reach out to me or Deputy Legislative Director Jackie Lavender Bird at 617-426-7272, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Thank you again for your distinguished support and commitment to the cities, towns, and public schools of Massachusetts.
MMA Executive Director and CEO