Chicopee rally demands better school funding, updated budgeting

Hampden County

Hundreds gathered in Chicopee Saturday, demanding the state fund public schools the nearly one billion dollars they are underfunded. 

Western Massachusetts school officials are blaming that situation on the state’s antiquated foundation budget, which hasn’t been updated in more than two decades.

The term “foundation budget” refers to the state education funding system, which basically works in the following way: it identifies the cost of education, for each child in the district, calculates how much the community can contribute, and then makes up the difference.

Bellamy Middle School Reach teacher Beth Coyle said, “I think in some ways its actually gotten worse.”

Nearly 200 school officials, parents and students held a rally at the Dupoint Middle School in Chicopee, demanding the state invest more money into public schools after lawmakers missed several dates, including the deadline for legislative session back in July.

Laura Demakis, president of the Chicopee Education Association told 22News, “We have social and emotional needs, but don’t have adjustment councilors to satisfy those needs. We have technology needs and mandates from the state, but we don’t have the technology to meet those mandates.”

Since the program hasn’t been updated in the last 25 years, some cities are missing out on millions in annual funding. Chicopee is missing out on $14 million, Springfield on $94 million, according to Demakis.

Teachers told 22News its not uncommon for them to seek additional funding or to spend their own money, just to purchase school supplies. 

Demakis told 22News schools are underfunded by nearly a billion dollars.

Coyle told 22News, “And that’s what frustrating, I shouldn’t have to go begging for eight Chromebooks. I know we don’t have the technology available, so I did, because it makes job easier and it helps my students become participants in the 21st century.”

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