Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing
BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year.
"I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school districts."
The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low population densities and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 education aid and is intended to supplement the FY20 operating budgets of eligible school districts.
In order to qualify for Rural School Aid, DESE must determine that a school district meets two requirements:
The "rural factor " based student density per square mile of a school district; and
Ability to pay, or the average per capital income of a school district.
This funding will help capture more schools, in addition to those that are already recipients of Rural School Aid funding. Specifically, the additional funding will benefit "school districts serving not more than 21 students per square mile" and "school districts serving not more than 35 students per square mile." The latter of these groups will be first-time recipients of this funding.
Hinds sponsored one amendment that was included in the final bill, H.4246. The amendment appropriates $200,000 to support the relocation of Barton's Crossing Homeless Shelter from its current location to downtown Pittsfield. This move would bring this vulnerable population to a new safe, clean, and efficient facility that is proximate to support services, public transportation, employment opportunities, and retail. The shelter is currently located in a century-old structure out toward Pontoosuc Lake.
"Barton's Crossing is the largest homeless shelter in the Berkshires, and I'm glad we were able to secure the funding to ensure it is located closer to the services necessary to assist the most vulnerable members of our community," said Hinds.
H.4246 will now be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker for his consideration.
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