BOSTON – Citing the need for increased information-sharing, advocacy and funding for regional school districts, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) has joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to reconvene the Legislature’s Regional Schools Caucus.
The Caucus has met periodically over the years to discuss obstacles facing regional school districts. However, given increasing regionalization of school services, the revitalization of the Caucus will provide a robust forum to discuss specific issues facing regional schools, and to devise effective solutions. The caucus is co-chaired by Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) and State Representative Kimberly N. Ferguson (R-Holden).
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in the Legislature to identify methods of addressing the needs of regional school districts and the communities they serve,” said Sen. Moore. “I recognize that additional efforts must be undertaken to ensure the adequacy of regional school funding, and to work towards ensuring that the Legislature fulfills obligations mandated by law.”
At the first meeting of the Caucus, the primary topic was the funding of regional school transportation, in which the state reimburses cities and towns for the transportation costs of students attending regional schools. The Senate adopted an amendment co-sponsored by Sen. Moore during the Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) Senate budget debate which increased regional school transportation spending to $59 million. This funding level is a $2.5 million increase compared to funding provided by the FY16 House budget and places the reimbursement rate above 70%.
Over 70 legislators have joined the Caucus which will meet during the course of the 2015-2016 legislative session. The Caucus has already taken action to advocate for the highest possible regional school transportation funding in the final FY16 budget by submitting a joint letter to budget Conference Committee members including Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland) and Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill) who chair the Committee on Ways and Means respectively in both chambers.