In a presentation to Council on Monday, Oct. 28, Sen. Sal DiDomenico announced a potential massive investment in Everett schools in the form of the Student Opportunity Act, which recently passed unanimously in the Massachusetts House and Senate.
The new legislation invests $1.5 billion in Chapter 70 aid to public schools across the state over the next seven years.
Chapter 70 funding – or state funding for public education – is meant to even the playing field between school districts in low-income communities and those in wealthier communities. The amount that a city receives in Chapter 70 funding is based on its collective wealth and resources, taking taxes and demographics into account.
The Student Opportunities Act was designed to support school districts in four key areas: managing employee and retiree healthcare costs, increasing special education enrollment, supporting English language learners, and educating children from low-income families. Everett will receive a substantial increase in Chapter 70 aid due to its high number of low-income students as well as students who do not speak English as a first language.
“I can’t give you an exact amount,” the Senator told Council, “but with this investment of $1.5 billion, the City of Everett will be very, very happy going forward over the seven-year process that this bill is implemented.”
In addition, the bill will expand funding for guidance counselors, charter school tuition reimbursements, transportation costs, and school renovation and construction.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen everyone on board: the unions, the mayor, the superintendent, the school committee, and both houses of Congress,” said the Senator. “This is happening.”
Councilors expressed full support of the bill, with Councilor John McKinnon saying it was “a long time coming.”
“This is great news and allows us to make an investment in education,” said Councilor Anthony DiPierro. “Thank your colleagues on the Hill.”
“I want to publicly thank you for your efforts,” said Councilor Fred Capone. “You have worked extremely hard on this from the beginning. Our community is lucky to have you.”
“Education is blessed to have you as our senator,” said Councilor Michael McLaughlin.
“This is going to help a lot of families,” said Council President Richard Dell Isola.
“We’re all very happy,” said Councilor John Hanlon.
Council will send a letter of support for the bill to Gov. Charlie Baker, who is the last hurdle in the process of passing the bill. The bill has passed both Houses and is in a Conference Committee, which will then forward the compromise bill to Gov. Baker.