Local Aid impact of New Federal Funds

Below, please see a press release from the Governor’s office regarding the allocation of federal education funds. These funds are flowing directly from the federal government through state executive branch agencies to schools. They are apparently not subject to legislative action at either the state or local level. Bottom line — additional funds for my communities in the following amounts:

Arlington--$396,792
Belmont----$331,641
Cambridge--$517,090

These are likely to be the primary additional local aid amounts resulting from the federal decisions. The other big pot of new funding, roughly $450 million of increased federal medicaid assistance, was already baked into the July budget which included local aid appropriations. There are standing differences among the branches about how to allocate those funds, but they are expected to meet state needs other than local aid — likely including overruns in the medicaid program itself and reduction of reserve fund draws.

The additional $250 million in Race-to-the-Top funding, also recently announced, will flow to schools. However, they will be spread over 4 years, diminishing their annual impact. Further, the state will mandate that they be spent on “professional development opportunities, giving teachers and administrators better feedback”, according to a statement from the state commissioner of
elementary and secondary education, Mitchell Chester, which was reported in the State House News.

Click here for commmunity-by-community local aid numbers.

Click here for a explanation of the funds allocation in more detail from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Governor’s press release follows:
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NEW BEDFORD – Wednesday, August 25, 2010 – Governor Deval Patrick today allocated $204 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund to school districts across the Commonwealth, bringing state support for public schools to its highest level in history. A combination of state and federal dollars totaling $4.07 billion will ensure all school districts receive more state aid – at least $25 per student – than they did last year. The new funding, which follows yesterday’s announcement that Massachusetts secured $250 million in federal Race to the Top dollars, will support an estimated 2,700 teaching positions.

“Great schools are the key to our future, and great teachers are the key to great schools,” said Governor Patrick. “With this significant infusion of funds, we are building a better, stronger future for our kids, our communities and our Commonwealth.”

“Governor Patrick and I have consistently said education is a priority of our administration, and today we continue to put those words into action,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “The Education Jobs bill will save jobs and restore funds to help our students have every opportunity to learn and thrive.”

On Tuesday, August 10th, President Obama signed the Education Jobs Fund into law, providing $26 billion nationwide to preserve jobs for teachers and other school-based employees. The Commonwealth’s $204 million appropriation will be directly distributed to school districts through the state’s education funding formula and combined with state and federal funds to ensure that every school district across the state meets its foundation level budget for the 2010-2011 school year. With this new infusion of federal funding, the Governor is able to fully fund Chapter 70 without the need to use about $60 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds available for general government purposes.

Governor Patrick made the announcement at Normandin Middle School in New Bedford where the school district will utilize the new state and federal funding to support 82 teaching positions. New Bedford will receive a total of more than $113 million in combined Chapter 70 and federal funding this academic year, including more than $6 million from the Education Jobs Fund. For a complete list funding awards under today’s announcement click here.

“This new investment, on top of the Race to the Top funding, will allow districts all across the state to hire or retain great teachers,” said Senator John Kerry. “Our entire congressional delegation pulled together with the Governor and the legislature to make sure that both of these investments happened and we’re thrilled with the results. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen without some tough decisions and compromises, but the bottom line is a lot of folks rolled up their sleeves and put in a lot of hard work to secure this critical funding.”

“This funding provides a critical boost to local officials and school departments who have had to make very difficult budget decisions during the economic crisis,” said Congressman William Delahunt. “It not only helps to ensure that our students are given the best education possible but will also help the economy by throwing a fiscal lifeline to states and local communities.”

“These federal funds will provide a boost to Fifth District cities and towns by helping to keep teachers in our classrooms, jobs in our communities, and maintain the level of excellence in education for our students during this difficult economic time,” said Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas.

“We have made every effort to minimize the impact of the global economic meltdown on our schools,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “By utilizing a combination of state and federal funds, the Governor here again is making decision based on his values and maintaining his commitment to providing strong support for public education.”

“Students cannot be successful without a well trained and fully supported teacher at the head of the classroom,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “These funds will help to counter the fiscal downturn that our districts are experiencing.”

Governor Patrick strongly advocated to ensure that ARRA included funding to mitigate state reductions in education funding driven by the recession. As a result, Massachusetts received $2 billion in federal recovery funds dedicated solely to pre-K-12 and higher education. The Governor has directed more than $600 million in federal recovery dollars to school districts over the past two years in order to shore up school budgets during the global economic crisis.

Additionally, this year the state will commit nearly $3.85 billion in Chapter 70 education funds to cities and towns. By combining these state dollars with $204 million in Education Jobs Funds and $20.7 million in existing ARRA funds, Governor Patrick has ensured that the state will meet its commitment to helping every school district reach foundation level spending targets in Fiscal Year 2011.

Yesterday, Governor Patrick and members of the congressional delegation announced that Massachusetts received $250 million from the federal Race to the Top program. The funds will be used to implement landmark education reforms, including providing new and more immediate opportunities to turn around underperforming schools and close achievement gaps, expand access to successful charter schools and authorize new Innovation Schools to provide greater choice for students and their families.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.