It’s intended to provide an economic stimulus, but the end result of federal funding in Belmont may be level funding for the schools, according to a story in today’s Belmont Citizen Herald.
The piece, by Cassie Norton, picks up on a press release from Gov. Deval Patrick’s office this morning regarding plans for an estimated $168m in federal recovery funds to maintain school services in the state. The money will go to maintaining level services for public schools, despite cuts in local aide. Earlier, Patrick had promised to keep Chapter 70 funding level, but would have allowed cuts to other municipal services which, in many towns, would have trickled down to effect schools, just the same. Belmont, which already funds its schools above state mandated “foundation” levels, would have been one of those towns.
The additional funds, targeted at 166 districts state wide, will be used to “preserve programs and avoid teacher layoffs at a time when the global economic crisis is forcing communities to increase class sizes, cut positions and make other difficult budget decisions that threaten the quality of education in Massachusetts.”
According to a preliminary list of towns slated to receive funds, Belmont would receive $1,364,975 under the plan.
As the Belmont Citizen Herald points out in its article, the money would be earmarked for the schools, and would not be divided between the town and school system. However, its unclear how the influx of funds will affect other budget discussions in town. As an example, Town Administrator Tom Younger raised the question of whether the emergency federal aid will impact the allocation of other Chapter 70 funds between the town and school.
Allocation of free cash between the Town and Schools was already likely to be the top agenda item for the Warrant Committee’s April 1 and April 8 meeting. Though the details are still unclear, The Warrant Committee will likely take up this issue, as well.