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North Suburban News

Stoneham Could See a Significant Increase in School Funding

Feb 11, 2019 09:29PM ● By Lisa Redmond

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STONEHAM – Based on Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed FY20 Chap. 70 funds, Stoneham stands to get a “huge increase’’ in school aid, a jump of 18 percent to $5.2 million, state Sen. Jason told the Stoneham Select Board this week.

“This is a very significant amount, ‘’ said Lewis, (D-Winchester) Typically, the increase is anywhere from 2 percent to 5 percent, he said.

But Baker has proposed that Stoneham’s school aid increase by $800,000 from $4.4 million to $5.2 million, he said.

State figures show area schools are also looking at proposed increases in Chap. 70 funding:

Community

       Proposed FY20 Chap. 70 funds

          FY19 Chap. 70 funds

          Difference

Reading

      $10.8 million

          $10.7 million

         + $100,000

Stoneham

      $5.2 million

         $4.4 million

          +800,000

Wakefield

      $6.6 million

        $6.3 million

         +$300,000

Winchester

     $9.3 million

        $9 million

         +$300,000

Woburn

     $9.3 million

        $9 million

          +$300,000

While the FY20 budget must still be debated by the House and Senate, Lewis noted the House and Senate usually add more money to “try to do better than the governor.’’

“It’s been decades since the school funding program (Chap. 70) has been updated,’’ Lewis said, noting the formula used for funding dates back to 1993. “That doesn’t accurately reflect the needs of our schools.’’

The challenge now is for the House, Senate and Baker to agree on final amounts. 

State Rep. Michael Day, (D-Stoneham), told the board that there is note of caution with those numbers as the numbers could vary based on state revenues.

In another bit of financial good news, Day said last December, after hosting all the tours, “cajoling and dragging’’ the Massachusetts School Building Authority through Stoneham High School, the MSBA announced it had invited Stoneham to begin the process for  funding assistance for  a new Stoneham High School, one of only a dozen schools chosen and only four are high schools: Stoneham, Revere High School, David Prouty High School and Bartlett Junior/Senior High School.

The MSBA pays a percentage of the costs for approved school projects.

 “A new school is something everyone here agrees is sorely needed,’’ he said.

This was the fifth year Stoneham had sought help from the MSBA to replace the 50-year-old building, which Stoneham School Superintendent John Macero has described as a “tired building.’’

After a 2017 site visit by the New England Association of High School and Colleges, the report showed that the district did well academically, but the high school’s accreditation was given a warning due to the condition of the school.

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