School Committee to seek reimbursement from Commonwealth

Oct. 12, 2017 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – The School Committee voted at its Oct. 5 meeting to ask the City Council to back a home rule petition that would ask for full state reimbursement of charter school expenses.

According to the letter sent to the City Council and signed by Mayor Domenic Sarno and School Committee Vice Chair Peter Murphy, “Over the past 10 years charter school assessments have dramatically outpaced local reimbursements in the city of Springfield, the difference between assessments and reimbursements has totaled $225,537,932 over the past 10 years. For FY18 alone, Springfield’s charter school assessment was $47,019,123 – of which the Commonwealth reimbursed only $7,105,818. In addition, transportation for charter schools has increased 148 percent in just five years.”

The letter noted Springfield would be following Lowell’s lead in filing a home rule petition asking for full state reimbursement of charter school expenses.

School Superintendent Daniel Warwick said, “Every year the Legislature underfunds this account.” He added, “This is a travesty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

School Committee member Denise Hurst recommended giving city councilors a list of  other communities considering such an effort.

School Committee member Christopher Collins called the situation “astounding” and questioned why the Commonwealth makes laws that are not followed.  

In other action, the School Committee congratulated the White Street School named as one of 342 American Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.

For the past 35 years, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve high learning standard or are making noticeable improvements in closing achievement gaps.

“What White Street has accomplished in the last few years is incredible,” Warwick said.

Principal Kristen Hughes noted that several years ago the school was “on the verge of a state take-over.” Now it is a Level 1 school.

“Hughes added, “I’m really proud of the work we do every day.”

Warwick also congratulated three city schools honored by The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as having not any students or coaches disqualified or suspended from an athletic contest during the 2016-2017 school year. Those schools in Springfield were Central High School, The Renaissance School and the High School of Science and Technology.

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