"I applaud the districts who applied for these grants. They are showing the leadership we need to build partnerships that will enhance the quality of education in our schools and create efficiencies," said Governor Patrick.
The potential regional partnerships will provide opportunities for school districts to utilize their resources more efficiently through the consolidation of administrative and program services and free up funding for direct classroom spending. Additionally, the funding will allow districts to develop regional partnerships to share best educational practices and expand capacity to design and implement improvement planning at the school and district level. Funding for the grants was included in the Department's Fiscal Year 2009 operating budget.
Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester joined with Western Massachusetts legislative leaders at Greenfield's Newton School on Friday to announce the grants.
"This funding is meant to jumpstart a movement across the state to find ways for our smaller communities to work together, learn from one another and share expenses in a manner that makes sense fiscally and educationally," Chester said. "I am pleased that in a year when money is so tight we have been able to maintain this effort as a priority and move forward with these grants."
Senators Stanley Rosenberg, Stephen Brewer and Benjamin Downing, who have all been vocal supporters of this effort, voiced their support for the grants.
"These grants will help the communities work together to improve the quality of education for our children through various forms of collaboration," said Sen. Rosenberg. "This is an excellent opportunity to recognize and build on the proactive work already taking place in many of our schools."
"I am thrilled to hear that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has granted this important assistance," said Sen. Brewer. "Providing children with a top quality education is one of the most important jobs for our state. This grant will allow our towns to combine their collective efforts and provide important educational opportunities to children of all ages."
"In light of the current fiscal climate, this type of a collaborative effort is a key step towards finding a more manageable way of funding our public education system, and achieving the goal of providing all students quality education in the classroom," said Sen. Downing.
Representatives Ann Gobi and Stephen Kulik also hailed the grant awards.
"I congratulate the Mahar School District," Rep. Gobi said. "I know that the grant will be well used to provide the best educational opportunities for all of our students."
"In this time of increased financial uncertainty and budget pressure, school districts have unique opportunities to collaborate and improve the efficiency and quality of education services for students and taxpayers," said Rep. Kulik. "I am pleased that these Regional Planning Grants will provide many of our smaller and rural districts with the financial resources they need to explore these possibilities for innovation in our schools."
Education Secretary Paul Reville said that the planning grants are an important next step in the regionalization dialogue.
"We are asking more of our teachers and our schools as we work to prepare all students to meet the challenges of a rigorous classroom education," said Reville. "It is our responsibility to ensure that school districts have the proper support necessary to equip their teachers with the resources they need to help students achieve."
The grants were awarded to:
*Note: Grant recipient communities are in bold.
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