Senate passes bills impacting MCAS, foreclosure

Education Commissioner Jeff Riley: “This could be an amazing opportunity to think differently about how we educate our kids.” (SAM DORAN/SHNS)

BOSTON – The fate of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System testing for the current year is in the hands of Gov. Charlie Baker and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley.

The Senate April 9 passed H.4616, “An act to further address challenges faced by municipalities, school districts and state authorities resulting from COVID-19.” The next step would be for Riley and Baker to cancel the test and waive the graduation requirement.

Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski reacted to the vote Friday and has said he hopes MCAS will be waived.

“I’m happy that it passed,” said Czaporowski. “I hope the Commissioner takes this into strong consideration moving forward. The superintendents have a conference call with him next week, so we’re hoping for an update on the status of MCAS.”

State Rep. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, had advocated for passage of the Act and cancellation of this year’s MCAS testing. He said he was happy with the outcome and hoped Riley and Baker would take the next step.

“I appreciate my colleagues acting swiftly on this critically important matter,” he said. “From the onset of the closure of schools following this pandemic, I have supported the cancellation of MCAS testing for this school year because it is best for our students, teachers, and parents. I am pleased to see this echoed by my colleagues throughout the state and know we will all continue to move quickly on this matter so we can begin working towards finding solutions to support our educators, students, and parents when school gets back on session.”

The Senate also passed bill H. 4615, which places a moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes during the pandemic.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D- Pittsfield, released a statement regarding the housing measure.

“Massachusetts is in the bottom tier of housing affordability and rents are the third highest in the nation. The outbreak and economic impact of COVID-19 worsens the existing strain on renters and homeowners,” Hinds said. “This bill makes clear that no resident of Massachusetts should worry about losing their housing during a pandemic.”

Bill H.4615 also includes components on mortgage forbearance and prohibiting late fees and negative credit reporting, according to Hinds.



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