By: Bissaillon Campaign On: 10:57AM / Tuesday August 17, 2010
ADAMS, Mass. — While recognizing the difficult financial times the state is working through, 1st Berkshire District state representative candidate Dave Bissaillon said it is not acceptable to him that cities and towns were forced to deal with a 4 percent decrease in Chapter 70 aid for district schools.
Bissaillon also said he would not support a budget that decreases aid to schools until the formula used to determine aid amounts is reevaluated.
"Ensuring that every child in Massachusetts is entitled to a challenging and invigorating public education should not have to be a rallying point for political action," Bissaillon said. "Through funding and various requirements it sets, the state has taken on a role in the education of our
children, and needs to live up to that responsibility."
Bissaillon pointed out that in the First Berkshire District, where employment opportunities are fewer, it is even more critical that all children obtain an education that fully prepares them for career options, today and for the future, in which change is constant.
"Shortchanging education, even in difficult times, cannot be an option in a state that has always prided itself on providing the best public education for its residents," he said. "I will not support a state budget that does not provide the necessary education dollars for our region."
Insufficient funding forces communities to lay off teachers and cut programs, or increase taxes and decrease municipal services. This should not be the choice that voters, school districts and municipalities face, Bissaillon said. The state has imposed a number of new requirements on schools in recent years and is obligated to provide schools the resources to meet and exceed those obligations.
Even without the 4 percent across-the-board cut, school funding is problematic. The formula used to calculate Chapter 70 aid from the state has not been adequately adjusted to reflect the actual costs of education today, Bissaillon said. Chapter 70 is the law intended to assure fair and adequate minimum per student funding for public schools. With the exception of inflation adjustments, the factors used to determine what the state calls the foundation budget have remained stagnant since 1993.
"As your state representative, I would support a formal re-evaluation of the foundation budget levels," Bissaillon pledged. "Until that review is completed, I will never support a budget that decreases aid to any of our public schools. It is time for elected officials to start making tough decisions so that our local communities don't have to. Our children deserve that, at the very least."
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The state is holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by John F. Kerry, who has been confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
The state primary is Tuesday, April 30. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary is Wednesday, April 10. Enrolled voters may only vote in their party primary; unenrolled voters may select a primary to vote in without changing their status.
The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25. The last day to register to vote in the election is Wednesday, June 5.
To register to vote, one must be at least age 18 by the date of the election, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the municipality in which you are voting.