|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, May 16, 1995|
State Education Reform Spending Update: Local Communities Receiving Substantial New State Dollars
Malden - State Board of Education Chair Martin S. Kaplan and Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci have urged state legislators debating the 1996 state budget to support key statewide education reform initiatives by fully funding teacher training, technology planning, school district improvement work and the Department's coordination of standards for students, teachers and schools.
In letters sent to every State Senator and Representative, the education leaders reported that every city and town in Massachusetts has received substantially more state education funding now than prior to the adoption of the Education Reform Act in 1993, and provided community-by-community financial data as evidence. The funding has come in two categories--state "Chapter 70" aid, funded under the local aid account of the state budget, and Education Reform state grants for specific reform programs, coordinated by the Department.
There has been some pressure on state legislators to cut statewide substantive reform initiatives in order to fund larger block grant-type increases in per-pupil aid given to districts.
"If cuts are made in the statewide implementation accounts, the impact would be to transform Education Reform from a comprehensive framework for school improvement into a mere school financial aid plan," Antonucci stressed in releasing the letter.
"The vast majority of all statewide implementation funds are given out through specific, targeted grants to school districts. Over the last two years, the Department has retained less than 1% of all implementation funds for state administration," Kaplan and Antonucci noted in their joint letter.
"Education reform is at a critical juncture. Increased state aid to all districts, predictability of funding, improvements in curriculum and assessment, changes in governance, increased professional development, and changes in tenure and certification are substantial reform initiatives that deserve your continued support. Only by tying increases in state aid to meaningful structural reforms coordinated at the state level -- but implemented locally -- can we maintain public support for public schools. For Education Reform to succeed, support for these initiatives must continue throughout the initial period of greatest change, which extends until the year 2000."
"We know you are faced with very difficult budget choices between competing priorities, but we urge you to support a budget that meets the target funding levels of $1.818 billion in Chapter 70 aid and $99.6 million in statewide implementation initiatives," they added.
"Public education is everyone's business. The economic and personal security of so many sectors of our society depends on the ability of our public school students to achieve higher standards of performance and the ability of our schools to hold all students to higher expectations. I urge everyone, including parents, business leaders, senior citizens and others who are counting on Education Reform, to get involved right now in moving the process forward," Antonucci said.