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Finance Committees Meet Tuesday Night on $9 Million Chapter 70 Shortfall

The finance committees of three towns will meet at the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce to confront the education funding issue.

 

This article was submitted by Michael McClung, chairman of the Swampscott Finance Committee.

The finance committees of Nahant, Saugus, and Swampscott have called an unprecedented joint hearing to investigate the ongoing failure of the Commonwealth to fund Chapter 70 aid at the agreed-upon 17.5 percent minimum.

The three towns were scheduled to be brought up to 17.5 percent of their DESE foundation budget by the end of fiscal year 2010. The governor's newly announced draft 2013 budget, however, leaves all three below this threshold.

“Seven years ago we were promised a 5-year phase-in to bring us up to 17.5%,” said Swampscott Finance Committee Chairman Michael McClung.  “Since then, we've lost ground, not made it up, and our property taxes increase to the difference.”

The three towns should have received nearly $9 million from the Commonwealth since 2007, under the agreement struck by the Legislature:

Nahant: $605,065

Saugus: $3,643,664

Swampscott: $4,634,805

“Swampscott's shortfall this year alone is over $800,000 in Chapter 70 money. I don't see how we can keep going back to the taxpayer, year after year. Our property tax rate is already among the highest in the state. We need our elected officials to live up to their promises,” said McClung.

Chapter 70 is the primary Massachusetts state program providing aid to public elementary and secondary schools. The funding formula was established in 1990s, and then revised in 2006, when the legislature passed a minimum aid level set at 17.5 percent of each district's foundation budget. The shortfall for all communities below 17.5 percent was to be closed over five years, ending in 2011. Gov. Patrick and state Education officials are on record that the Chapter 70 formula “is broken.”

The joint meeting of finance committees appears to be an historic first for the region. The session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, 7:30 pm at the Lynn Chamber of Commerce, 538 Chestnut Street.

Marianne Hartmann February 14, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Thank you to Mike McClung and the Finance Committee for leading this much needed charge
Mary DeChillo February 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM
This kind of collaboration between all the involved towns (n=50 or so) will be the only way this issue will get resolved. Both the legislature and the Patrick Administration have failed to change the formula and to bring Swampscott to the 17.5 % level. The disparity began under the Romney Administration, so there is ample non-partisan culpability all around on this issue. Town finance committees are non-partisan and serve an essential function in town governance. This is not a "school" problem--the yearly shortfall affects the entire town budget. Thank you to Mr. McClung and the Finance Committee for taking up the cause that some in Swampscott (e.g.David Whelan) have been working on for several years.
David Whelan February 14, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Deval's FY 13 proposed increases Manchester-Essex +20% increase Danvers +20% increase Newton +16% Winchester +13% Arlington +15% Swampscott +.34% ($8,660) Stoneham +0% Saugus +0% Marblehead +0% Nahant +0%
hello hello February 26, 2012 at 09:49 PM
you are lucky that the override has been passed by the residents in Swampscott, here in Nahant the residents overwhelmingly opposed it last year so our school does not even have enough budget for toilet paper...really, I an not exagerating .

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