|Budget Amendment Includes Increase For Rural Schools |
|04:12PM / Thursday, November 19, 2020|
BOSTON — State Sen. Adam Hinds announced Thursday that he has secured $3 million for rural schools in the state Senate's budget.
Hinds said the State Senate adopted his budget amendments to increase funding for the Rural School Aid grant program by $1.5 million, raising the total appropriation for this account to $3 million in the FY20 Senate Budget.
"A child's ZIP code should not determine the quality of their education," Hinds said in a release. "Rural school districts experience fiscal uncertainty every year because of the unique and substantial obstacles they face to provide their students basic school services. My hope is that with this additional $1.5 million is that DESE to provide fiscal relief to even more school districts in rural areas across the Commonwealth charged with providing quality education to students."
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 (DESE), Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 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" – student density per square mile of a school district; and
Ability to pay – the average per capita income of a school district.
More specifically, eligible school districts must have a student density of "not more than 21 students per square mile and an average annual per capita income of not more than the average annual per capita income for the Commonwealth for the same period, as reported by the United States Census Bureau." Further, rural school districts serving fewer than 11 students per square mile are prioritized to receive funding.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the State Senate passed a $46 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021, after adding $36.1 million in targeted investments over the course of two days of deliberations. Passed with bipartisan support, the budget aims to move the commonwealth toward an equitable recovery by making investments in sectors impacted by COVID-19.
"The funding that these amendments provide are another step toward regional equity for Western Massachusetts and every region of our commonwealth," Hinds said.