Westfield Newsroom

Velis notes events of the week

Rep. John Velis

Hello Westfield,

This has been another eventful week.  This week the event ‘Cops for a Cause’ occurred at the Senior Center.  It was a packed sold out event and great how everyone came out to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association promoting Alzheimer’s awareness and research.  The chili that was made for the luncheon was made by the Officer Mark Carbonneau with donated ingredients from the Westfield Police Association.  It was truly amazing to witness all the support and community in one space for such a serious disease that touches so many lives.

On Thursday the education bill S.2348 commonly known as the Student Opportunity Act was released from the committee on Education. The bill went through many changes and drafts in committee to comprise a group of legislators’ bills. This bill will provide $1.5 billion to the Massachusetts public school system over a seven-year time frame.  This education bill is set, for the time being, to be voted on by the Senate on Oct. 3 with a House vote happening soon after.  A state commission, about 4 years ago, discovered that the school finance formula does not take into account portions of the budget that drive the cost of education up and that without this bill, was $1 billion to $2 billion below annually what would fully fund the education system.   Though the bill is going to focus on low-income communities and schools with higher population of English as a second language; there are four total areas that with this bill will receive better funding including employee health care, special education, low-income students, and English language learners.  Education funding has been a topic that advocacy groups, unions, and legislators have been working on for years. This bill is the product of much collaboration and is such a landmark if passed that one must dive into the history of this as well.

In 1993 there was a historic education funding bill passed that was a major accomplishment in reforming Massachusetts law to increase equitable education for all communities in the Commonwealth especially those.  The original 1993 law was a response to property tax cuts that hit poor communities and a lawsuit.  Brockton students championed a class-action lawsuit to remedy the inequality in their school by getting extra funding to create equity.  This 1993 law is what made the MCAS a 10th grade graduation requirement and capped the charter school allowed statewide at 25.  These reforms to Massachusetts law put money into poorer communities and brought Massachusetts scores up Nationwide.  Since then there have been reductions in school spending, in part from the Great Recession, that reverted and allowed Massachusetts to fall behind the equitable standard they had set many years ago.  There was also a charter school added to Brockton, further causing tension in the city.

There is still work to be done and steps to be taken before the bill can become a law.  There can be change through amendments or it can stay the same, it will be something to review intensely if the bill hits the floor of the House of Representatives.  Remember to always stay active in issues that are important to you, this is part of what I love about my job.  I love to be able to speak with my constituents about the issues that are most important to them so that I can best represent you! 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about bills or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out! My office can be reached at [email protected] or (413) 572-3920. Have a great week!

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