The Rich Get More Than the Poor in the Present Calculation
Thirteen gateway cities, places like Brockton, Lowell, and Lynn will likely be suing the state to change the formula for school aid which has been declining precipitously as responsibilities have been expanding dramatically.
“If this suit comes to pass and we are invited, we will join it,” said Superintendent of Schools Fred Foresteire.
“We have 2,000 kids in our school system we get no credit for, who we support as our state contribution continues to decrease,” he added.
This problem is not Everett’s alone, obviously.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin told the Leader Herald that he has put an item on the City Council agenda, asking the city to join the lawsuit.
The incongruity and lack of equity in the return of state dollars to the so-called Gateway cities, is a subject given feature status in last week’s Sunday Boston Globe.
The Globe highlighted the difference between state funding for the town of Weston and compared it with Brockton’s.
Last year Weston spent $24,000 per pupil to educate rich kids almost entirely white while Everett spent $14,800 to educate many kids of a dozen races and color who are struggling with English as a second language, a transient school population that comes and goes, and with the difficulties poverty can have on quality of life and the simple act of just living a normal life.
“The state aid system is broken,” said Foresteire. “Paying for our health insurance last year cost the school department $11 million. We were reimbursed $6 million from the state. That right there put us $5 million behind right out of the gate,” he said.
The state formula, according to the Globe feature, has failed to keep pace with escalating costs.
“ T h e s t a t e h a s b e e n shortchanging reimbursements paid to school districts when their students attend independently run charter schools or pricey out of district special education programs,” the Globe reported.
“The state also changed how it counts low income students, causing some districts to receive significantly less aid,” added the Globe.
“It is a broken system,” said Foresteire. “We don’t ignore anyone in our system. Yet nearly all the kids matriculating through the Gateway cities school systems are ignored. The state is ignoring the urban districts. The suburban districts have it all over us and that simply isn’t right and it isn’t fair,” he added.
The fight, experts say, is over equitable funding of the public schools.
With the gaps between funding for the rich widening over that of the poor, court seems to be the only answer.
“We would be pleased to join the Gateway cities in this legal battle for more dollars,” said Foresteire.
“How much longer can we go on receiving less and less while being responsible for more and more?”