Happy August all!
I hope everyone has had a good week, and has been able to enjoy some of the nice weather. I spent the majority of this week out and about in the district for meetings and events, and had plenty of Senate business as well.
I started off Monday Morning by having a meeting with various superintendents in the district, including Superintendent Allison LeClair of Easthampton, Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski of Westfield and Superintendent David Hopson of Gateway Regional School District. We had a long and fruitful conversation about the reopening of schools, remote possibilities, and all the challenges that school administrations are facing in planning. This continues on conversations I have been having with teachers, families, and school administration as we head towards the fall. Just recently, I had a series of meetings with teachers unions and local educators, and have talked with families about their concerns as well. Monday afternoon, I toured the construction site of MillWorks Westfield. MillWorks will be a new “co-sharing” collaborative workspace that will be great for remote workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Tuesday morning, my staff and I had a meeting with the Massachusetts Service Alliance, a phenomenal organization that focuses on growing volunteerism in Massachusetts. They are involved with a number of non-profits and programs that operate in our district, including the Homework House of Holyoke, the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in Holyoke, and the Hilltown Cooperative Charter in Easthampton. On Wednesday I was able to get out to both Holyoke and Easthampton. First, I visited the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, and met plenty of youth members and club leaders. The club provides so many resources and programs for the community, including over 750 dinners a night for youth. I couldn’t be more impressed. In Easthampton I visited the Evans House, which provides housing and helps out veterans in our community who are struggling with issues.
Thursday afternoon, I was proud to present Abby Hoschouer with an official Senate Citation in honor of her receiving the Emerald Shield from Southwick Regional High. The Emerald Shield is given annually to the member of the graduating class who has made the greatest contribution to the Southwick Regional School, and is voted upon by the schools staff and senior class. The rest of Thursday and Friday was focused on legislation and Senate businesses, including a Friday hearing for the Labor and Workforce Development committee. I am Vice-Chair of this committee, and we went over several bills in the hearing, including ones that would provide more protections for employees and working parents during COVID-19.
Last week, the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to suspend Joint Rule 12A. This allows us to continue our formal legislative session past July 31st. I am glad that we will be able to keep working on important legislation, so that we can continue to help constituents and our State recover from this pandemic. Also this week, the Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives agreed to a commitment on Chapter 70 and local aid funding for our schools and municipalities. I know that many of you reached out to my office with concerns regarding cuts, and I am happy to report that funding will be kept level from FY2020, with increases in place for
inflation. It’s crucial that we provide the support and funding our schools and communities need, so that our educators and students are getting the proper resources and education.
As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office! I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or phone: (413) 572-3920.
John C. Velis