When the school funding formula was established in 2008, the idea was for the money to follow the child. But what’s developed instead is a system that’s allowed nearly half of the state’s 600 school districts to become chronically underfunded.
“We have some school districts that are receiving three times the amount of aid than they should be and some towns receiving one-third of the aid that they should be. This means some towns are paying 50 percent more in property taxes than they should be and some are paying 50 percent less,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“This is a big issue. We are receiving for next year 56 percent of the state aid that we’re due and yet our local tax effort is 44 percent above the local fair share. So our community has had to compensate where other communities are being overfunded. I think that’s the central issue,” said Newton Public Schools Superintendent G. Kennedy Greene.
The situation for Newton’s public schools — and hundreds of others — can be traced to the hold harmless concept created in the 2008 law. It gave districts a boost in aid before decreasing it, based on future enrollment and demographic shifts. That aid was supposed to stop. Yet some districts are still being doled out that money today.
“It has caused a massive disconnect in how schools are actually functioning and how they’re funded. The state continues to distribute more than half a billion dollars in hold harmless aid more than eight years after the School Reform Act from 2008,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey.