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 to offer the municipal perspective on several bills being heard by your committee.
In recent years, the Legislature has shown tremendous leadership to acknowledge and work to address many of the challenges associated with delivering special education services to students across the Commonwealth. Through the passage of the Student Opportunity Act, 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 deeply appreciate the Legislature’s commitment to educating all of our students and the work the Legislature has done to support school districts.
While there has been rapid progress and investment for special education over the past several years, we are also facing a time of major increases in both the number of students who require special education services, as well as increased costs associated with the delivery of such services. According to the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, school districts are seeing an increase in the number of students identified as having special education needs, as well as an increase in the complexity of those needs. As school districts strive to meet the needs of all learners, special education is consuming a greater share of school budgets, and school district budgets are consuming an even larger share of total municipal budgets. This makes it more difficult to maintain programs for non-special-education students, and more difficult to fund municipal services and programs.
We respectfully request support for S. 241, Resolve establishing a special education funding reform commission, and H. 442, An Act establishing a special education funding reform commission. Creating a special commission to study the entire system related to special education funding would provide important insight and recommendations to improve the long-term fiscal health and sustainability of the Commonwealth’s special education programs.
While a comprehensive commission is key to developing sustainable long-range solutions, there is also an urgent need for additional resources in the short-term. To that end, the MMA strongly supports several bills that would provide an increased reimbursement rate for the Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursement program (S. 335 and H. 525, An Act to increase special education circuit breaker reimbursement from 75% to 90%), as well as the transportation reimbursement rate that accompanies this program (S. 336 and H. 526, An Act to special education transportation reimbursement from 75% to 90%). Additionally, we support measures that would lower the threshold for Special Education Circuit Breaker funding to be accessed (S. 337 and H. 527, An Act relative to adjusting approved costs threshold). These proposals would provide meaningful relief for all school districts and municipalities in the Commonwealth.
Please contact us if you have any questions or need additional information by reaching out to me or Deputy Legislative Director Jackie Lavender Bird at 617-426-7272, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your distinguished record of support, dedication and commitment to the cities, towns, and public schools of Massachusetts.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO