State Senator Katherine Clark spoke at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on September 24 about education funding in Stoneham. “As everyone knows that it’s been a difficult time on our own pocketbooks and for the state as well,” Clark said. “We’ve been trying to keep track of the effect of state aid to the community.”
Over all, from fiscal years 2011 to 2014, the state aid has decreased by 2.5 percent, but there has been a 2.36 percent increase for Stoneham. Stoneham has faced historical inequalities when it comes to education funding. The funding was set in 1992, the town was doing very well with funding education at a generous level and the state decided that they did not need to aid Stoneham the way it helped out other towns. “As that formula has never been updated as it was originally intended, Stoneham has ended up with an inequity,” Clark said. “Other communities who hadn’t done as good a job funding their schools have benefited since 1992.”
Clark said that steps were taken to rectify this and in 2005, the state was making progress in leveling out the playing field until the economic collapse of 2008. There are 144 school districts statewide who never needed funding before, and were left behind once the collapse took ahold of the country.
“Some of those 144 school districts are in very wealthy communities,” Clark said. “We came up with a formula that identified 109 communities that were not as wealthy and Stoneham met that criteria as well as Wakefield.” Clark said that the mission has been to ad 25 percent a year until the targeted aid is reached.
Since 2011, the State Senate has used a formula that has resulted in a positive change, yielding $258,000 for education, according to Clark. Clark thanks Representative Jason Lewis for his efforts in passing this bill through the House of Representatives.