By: Linda Dean Campbell – Sept. 2018
As back-to-school season rolls around, now is as good a time as ever to express our appreciation to all who are dedicated to educating our students here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is no surprise that Massachusetts was once again ranked the “Best State for Education” by U.S. News & World Report and the “Best School System in America” by WalletHub.
Our commitment to quality education for our children is evident in this year’s increased State education funding and in the hard work that our teachers and administrators put in every day. That being said, there is always more we can do to support our students.
This year’s state budget contained many victories for education, including an additional $160.6 million in State aid to public schools and an additional $25.6 million to reimburse school districts for costs associated with special education. This new funding will help to offset the rising education costs that are straining many school districts’ finances.
The budget also included an additional $52 million for early education.
In the same vein, the House passed legislation this year providing access to high-quality preschool programs for children in underperforming school districts, which will narrow the achievement gap in those communities. I am proud that the Legislature continues to invest in our community’s youngest students, as studies have demonstrated that early education investment is both cost-effective for taxpayers and critical for our children’s long-term success.
Despite these budget victories, we must continue to expand the state resources available to our schools. When state funds for education are limited, the cost burden on already cash-strapped municipalities can be detrimental, as we have seen in many communities across the Commonwealth. Although we are taking positive steps forward as a state, more funding must be made available.
One way to address the root of the funding issue is to update the formula by which school districts are allocated state dollars. The formula is in need of recalibration to better account for current education costs.
Efforts have been made in the Legislature to fix the funding formula, but the House and Senate were unable to reach an agreement this session. As a cosponsor of legislation on this topic, I believe it is important that we revisit this issue next session. To remain #1 in the nation, our schools need adequate funding.
In an increasingly competitive age, we must step up to prepare our children for success later in life. Investing in the schooling of our kids is investing in a strong future for Massachusetts. I look forward to continuing to advocate for policies and funding to improve education in Merrimack Valley and the Commonwealth.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature. She can be reached at (617) 722-2380 or Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov.