Well, the budget is finished after a mid-night close this week but let us take a look at what this looks like for education. Yes, Governor Charles Baker came to the front of the crowd to provide funding for security and education, which really is great but in terms of funding to bring the per-student cost of education got lost somewhere between the Senate and House under the golden dome.
When the Holmes School in Malden in 1993 was packed with government officials from the State level to see Governor William Weld sign the Education Reform Act, the feelings were so positive and morale upbeat that joy “filled the land” as they say. All looked so good as everything seemed so financially set but Massachusetts skepticism filled the air as well, but hope predominated. All went well until the costs that the State had signed off to fund began to fall off in the amount appropriated for local districts to receive, as State mandates escalated.
For urban areas and gateway cities, the fiscal situation became next to, if not impossible while all districts faced falling funding for education except those districts that local officials transferred funding away from other departments to move towards the schools.
While all this was happening, problems in our communities increased in percentage to larger and larger numbers with more serious problems emerging in our school districts and communities.
Places like Columbine were unknown in 1993 but school intruders and shootings began to happen too often in our schools and government buildings as gunshots were heard to change the entire landscape of our school planning, when doors were made more secure, locks installed in some classroom doors in many cities and towns and police added to many schools, as SRO’s as other protective devices were installed in many schools.
Remember I said “many” as again the finances for needed staff and improvements was limited at best with many communities doing the best they could with each year passing with the thought that the funds promised in 1993 would return as legislated in the Education Reform Law but never brought back in full only in components of decreased amounts. The education funding issue looked like it was heading to a resolution this past year.
Health and Special Education Costs
A great commission got off the ground with hearings and the presence of all parties and some overall decisions, which in summary attempted to give
financial relief by reimbursements or relief in some form for the increasing costs of health care and special education costs in school districts across Massachusetts. Also, there was the hope that urban areas and gateway cities would be provided relief for the impossible challenges they were facing. The School Budget Review Commission was the expected relief that was needed.
Despite efforts from many corners, the lights went out in the State House this past week with no action on the proposals of the Commission, which was a huge loss as well as the lack of providing funds to schools, that is becoming a huge, if not impossible, task. The real trouble is that school officials have reached the point where “the elastic” is getting ready or not already broken. The education financial crisis is still with us and growing.
With all Superintendents understanding a real “Jetty,” all also know what happens if a “Jetty” is extended across a body of water surrounded by land. Within no time, the water drops and the life in the water are reduced and lost. School Superintendents are seeing that happening across our land in Massachusetts in terms of the funds to support the education of our young people.
JETTY defined as a pier or structure of stones, piles or the like, projecting into the sea or other body of water to protect a harbor and deflect the current