State lawmakers approve $1.5B education bill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers have reached agreement on an education funding bill.

State representatives were at the Statehouse until late Wednesday night debating items in the education funding bill, but western Massachusetts legislators told 22News, the long hours were worth it because schools in their districts could soon see more funding.

The $1.5 billion Student Opportunity Act makes major investments in the state’s K-12 education system over the next 7 years.

State lawmakers spent additional time on Wednesday making sure low-income and rural school districts are provided the funding and resources they need.

“It’s central focus is about how do we direct resources to the districts that need it the most and how do we level the playing field so that every child in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an ability to succeed,” Rep. Michael Finn of West Springfield said.

About 4 years ago, the Foundation Budget Review Commission found that the state was underestimating the cost of education by $1 billion a year, failing to consider expenses associated with low-income students, English language learners, and special education.

The Student Opportunity Act made adjustments to the state’s school funding formula, for the first time in more than 20 years. One of the three amendments that passed directly benefits rural parts of western Massachusetts.

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