Tag Archives: funding

Gordy’s parked in yum yums: What Would You do with $91 million a Year?

By Gordon Davis
 
The Worcester School District is being underfunded at least $91,000,000 per year. This is according to the calculations found in M. G. L. Chapter 70 and the statutes for special needs education.

The purpose of this money is to ensure that school districts with low incomes and property values receive resources similar to those of wealthier school districts. This makes sense, especially in terms of the low classroom sizes needed for quality education and for the intense educational effort needed by some special needs students.

However, for years – or decades – Worcester has been shortchanged by millions of dollars. Thinking of it as a tax refund might bring clarity. The State owes you a $2,000 refund, but only gives you $1,500. This is certainly unfair and possibly unlawful.

The excuse I most hear is the money had not been proposed in the Governor’s budget. This go along to get a long mentality is objectively harmful to the children of Worcester. I understand that several legislators have raised a fuss about the Governor’s education budget. Good for them!

I was surprised when a person who supports the Worcester Public Schools asked me what our School District would do with the money.

The answer I had for him was fairly easy, but also incomplete:

1. Ensure that special needs students get all of the resources that are required for them to be successful.  
 
2. Reduce the student-teacher ratio so that all students can get more individualized instruction.
 
 
3. Institute additional Advanced Placement courses to ensure that the students who are seeking college preparation get it.
 
4. Establish a school similar to the Nativity School in the Worcester Public Schools for children at risk.
 
5. Repair and modernize the school district’s buildings.
 
6. Establish an exam school for science and mathematics.
 
There does not seem to be any urgency in our delegation to the State House, members of the Worcester City Council or Worcester School Committee to get this money. In fact, I have heard only four people in the City talk about it and two of them are in CPPAC.  Another person is in the teachers’ union. State Rep. Mary Keefe is the fourth.

This money would not only help Worcester students be successful, but it would also add to the economy of the City. It would be a net gain, as more money would come in than leaves.

It would also mean scores of new jobs.

Hopefully, most of these jobs would be obtained by Worcester residents.

The additional money and the improvements to the Worcester School District would have the additional effect of helping to stop the drain of money to the charter schools.

A new exam school in Science and Math, a middle school based on the Nativity School model, additional Advanced Placement courses, and smaller class sizes should make the Worcester Public Schools even more attractive to students outside our District.

The students of Worcester would benefit more when the Worcester City Council stops its pipe dream of making Boston “jealous” and when the Worcester School Committee stops selecting candidates based on popularity.

I hope this wish list comes about within my lifetime.  

Gordon is parked in music!

Our Worcester Legislative Delegation Failing the Worcester Public Schools

By Gordon Davis

Several decades ago Massachusetts Public School Systems were seen as one of the fundamental element of our prosperity and well being.  Although it still is today a basis for our quality of life, Public Schools are not held in the same esteem as then.

There are those who outright want to destroy the best Public School systems in the nation by changing over to charter schools.  Governor Charlie Baker fits this characterization. There are those who do not care and see the Public School systems as a financial burden. Then there are those who desire good Public Schools, but do nothing as the schools are being undefended and left to deteriorate.

To some extent the Worcester legislative delegation is the latter.

I suppose it is not much different that other cities in Massachusetts have Public Schools that are becoming majority minority or majority children of color. 

State representatives Mary Keefe and John Mahoney have made statements in support of fully funded Public Schools.

Rep. Keefe raised the idea of a coalition of “gateway cities.” 

This is needed. I hope she is working on effectuating the coalition. They should get credit for their statements.

Chapter 70 of Mass. Gen. Laws was passed to ensure that the poorer communities have good public schools. The basis for the statute is that schools dependent on property taxes in poorer communities would have less money than the more affluent towns where property values and taxes are higher.

Although the law obliges the State to fully fund Public Schools in accordance with the Foundation Formula found in Chap. 70, the politicians always seem to find a way to shortchange Worcester and other cities that are transitioning to a majority children of color schools. This is an outrage and could possible lead to the situation seen in Detroit and Philadelphia where underfunding precipitated inadequate education.

If Worcester was fully funded by the State as is required by Chapter 70 the Worcester Public School System would receive an ADDITIONAL $92 million per year. 

For fiscal 2017 the Worcester Public School System is facing a $22 million deficit.  The $92 million owed to the City’s schools would cover the deficit and have money to reduce class sizes and improve opportunities.

In Worcester about $3 million from taxes go into our Public Schools. This amount is rumored to be scheduled to be reduced by between one and two million dollars. For the more affluent towns relative much more money per capital is allocated to their schools. These towns can do this as their property values and taxes are higher than Worcester.

Several groups are raising the issue, including CPPAX, Jobs Not Jail, Mass. Human Rights, and others.

It is time the Worcester legislative delegates spoke out more forcibly for fully funded schools.

It is time the delegation tell us in detail how it intends to get full funding for Worcester children.  

The issue of education of our children is too important to let the people representing us to just make a few platitudes and do nothing.

The platitude of “working behind the scene to effectuate change” is no longer credible.  

Protest tomorrow!

BOSTON FAMILIES AND STUDENTS TO PROTEST MAYOR WALSH’S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

Boston – On January 19, 2016, a broad-based coalition of public education stakeholders made up of families, students, educators, community members and groups representing public schools throughout Boston will come together at Mayor Walsh’s 2016 State of the City Address to protest budget shortfalls which negatively impact all of our Boston Public Schools.

We are protesting the Walsh administration’s failure to aggressively advocate for adequate funding and to make the investments needed to create success for every single student in all of our Boston Public Schools.

DATE: Tuesday, January 19, 2016

TIME: 4:30 pm

LOCATION:  Intersection of Westland Ave and Mass Ave, Under BSO sign

We are demanding that Mayor Walsh, at a minimum, do the following:

Join in solidarity with Boston’s students, families and community members to aggressively advocate for our Boston Public Schools at state and federal levels;

Through strategic planning and ambitious revitalization, reduce the BPS budget shortfalls of $50 million this year and $140 million over the last three years;

Invest in fully-resourced community public  schools with wraparound services for Boston’s children;

Work with the true stakeholders of Boston Public Schools: students, families, educators and community members to fully audit BPS’ budget in order to assess community needs and address inequalities;

and, Collaborating with the true stakeholders, demand democratically controlled public schools through an elected Boston School Committee.

In Boston, the stakeholders have come together to build a new vision for our public schools and our children—one that champions great public schools as the heart of our neighborhoods and ensures that every student, regardless of zip code, receives the highest quality education available.

Our stakeholders have developed a community-driven movement for the benefit of all of our students  and we will hold all of our elected officials accountable to us as their constituents and voters.

Contact: Karen Kast-McBride Mary Lewis-Pierce (617) 877-2871 857-891-3271
Karen.Kastmcbride@gmail.com lewispierce@gmail.com

Please join us in asking our friends in Congress to support the CAP Act HR 3745

By Mauro DePasquale, Executive Director, WCCA TV 13

The Community Access Preservation Act was introduced October 7, 2009, by Representative Tammy Baldwin (WI-2). It is an a important piece of legislation for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access Centers.

What Will It Do?

Much stronger language is need to guarantee funding assurances for non-profit public access institutions, such as WCCA TV. However, this is a good first step. 1. It removes the distinction between “capital” and “operating” in PEG support fees. PEG support fees that are collected from subscribers by the cable operators can only be used for “capital and equipment” and not for operational overhead.

The CAP Act will eliminate that part of the Telecommunications Act that prevents PEG centers from using PEG support for their operating expenses.

Right now, access centers are having to close their doors because, even though they receive money for buildings and equipment, they do not have or are losing money for operations. The CAP Act will allow centers to spend the PEG support fees as they see fit to keep the centers open and keep the channels on the air. Continue reading Please join us in asking our friends in Congress to support the CAP Act HR 3745