|For Immediate Release|
|Thursday, January 29, 1998|
Public Hearings Scheduled on Proposed Amendments to Racial Imbalance Law
Malden - The Board of Education is sponsoring three hearings this month, beginning Tuesday in Boston, to hear public comment on a proposal to change the state formula reimbursing the cost of building new schools. The proposal would shift from one based on minority student enrollment to one based on income.
This is not intended to affect or change the Metco program, under which minority students from Boston and Springfield attend schools in 36 suburban districts.
The 1974 Massachusetts Racial Imbalance Law authorizes the Board of Education to approve a school building assistance rate of 90% "whenever the Board is satisfied that the construction or enlargement of the schoolhouse is for the purpose of reducing or eliminating racial imbalance ... or imbalance of minority students." Currently 21 districts have approved racial balance plans and receive 90% reimbursement from the state for new building costs.
The proposal would amend the law to target 90% school building assistance for construction or renovation in school districts whose low-income student enrollment, as calculated by the Department of Education, is 33% or more of the district's total enrollment. The proposal, by three members of the State Board of Education, would require the passage of legislation to become law.
The public hearings will be held on the following schedule: February 3, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm at W. Roxbury High School, Boston; February 11, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Gerena School, Springfield; February 25, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm at City View School, Worcester.
If there are many people who wish to testify, a three minute time limit per speaker will be followed.
Written comments on the proposal are encouraged. All comments and testimony will be considered before the Board of Education votes on whether to submit the proposal to the Legislature. Written comments should be sent by the end of February to : Commissioner Robert V. Antonucci, Massachusetts Department of Education, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148.