State of MA: Fund 100% of Transportation for Regional School Districts
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According to MA General Law Chapter 71; Section 16C, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is legally required to fully reimburse regional school districts (RSDs) for transportation costs, subject to appropriation. In recent years, Massachusetts has reduced their funding for these costs, leaving local taxpayers to pick up the tab. There are currently 58 academic regional school districts, educating 107,000 students in 170 communities across MA that are being underfunded by the state in this way, adversely impacting student education and community services.
An important financial incentive for these school districts to regionalize was the reimbursement associated with transportation. Costs associated with transporting students in a regional school district are significant, because of the geographical footprint associated with bus routes across numerous communities. Without this reimbursement by the state, these districts have had to fund transportation costs by cutting other areas of their budgets. There has been a similar impact on municipal budgets, with cuts to town services required to make up the shortfall in transportation reimbursement funding in school budgets. For the 2016-2017 school year, the state shorted these towns and districts by 27%. For example, the five towns and schools of the Wachusett Regional School District (WRSD), which is the largest in the state, have been underpaid by $12 million dollars over the past 9 years.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump's 2017 report, Supporting Student and Community Success: Updating the Structure and Finance of Massachusetts Regional School Districts states clearly that the simple act of the state fulfilling its promise of funding 100% transportation costs would make an enormous impact on the budgets of all RSDs and their contributing towns. Because of continually increasing demands due to rising health insurance and other costs, we can no longer afford to pay what you promised! We request the Commonwealth of Massachusetts fulfill their requirement by law to fund 100% of the transportation costs for the Commonwealth’s regional schools for the school year 2018-19. Pay what you promised for regional transportation --- and our districts and towns can thrive instead of survive.
This petition was created by I Am Wachusett (of WRSD) and Support our Children and Schools (of Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District) on behalf of all of the 58 regional school districts in Massachusetts: Acton-Boxborough, Adams-Cheshire, Amherst-Pelham, Ashburnham-Westminster, Athol-Royalston, Ayer-Shirley, Berkshire Hills, Berlin-Boylston, Blackstone-Millville, Bridgewater-Raynham, Chesterfield-Goshen, Central Berkshire, Concord-Carlisle, Dennis-Yarmouth, Dighton-Rehoboth, Dover-Sherborn, Dudley-Charlton, Nauset, Farmington River, Freetown-Lakeville, Frontier, Gateway, Groton-Dunstable, Gill-Montague, Hamilton-Wenham, Hampden-Wilbraham, Hampshire, Hawlemont, King Philip, Lincoln-Sudbury, Manchester Essex, Martha's Vineyard, Masconomet, Mendon-Upton, Monomoy, Mount Greylock, Mohawk Trail, Narragansett, Nashoba, New Salem-Wendell, Northboro-Southboro, North Middlesex, Old Rochester, Pentucket, Pioneer Valley, Quabbin, Ralph C Mahar, Silver Lake, Somerset Berkley, Southern Berkshire, Southwick-Tolland, Granville, Spencer-East Brookfield, Tantasqua, Triton, Up-Island Regional, Wachusett, Quaboag, and Whitman-Hanson.
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