NORTHAMPTON – The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) hosted nine state legislators and aides, and twenty School Superintendents from Franklin and Hampshire counties on Friday morning, February 15th at their offices at 97 Hawley Street in Northampton. Challenges Facing Education in Our Region provided the group an opportunity to discuss concerns, ideas and solutions about issues relating to funding education in the region’s small and rural public school districts.
State legislators in attendance included Representatives Natalie Blais, Daniel Carey, Mindy Domb, Lindsay Sabadosa, Aaron Vega; Senator Joanne Comerford; and legislative aides Melissa Eaton (Rep. Susannah Whipps), Paige Dolinski (Rep. Paul Mark), Laura Britton (Rep. Sabadosa) and Jonathan Gould (Sen. Adam Hinds).
Speakers William Diehl, Executive Director, CES; Michael Morris, Superintendent of Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools; Michael Buoniconti, Superintendent of Mohawk Trail Regional School District; and John Provost, Superintendent, Northampton Public School; introduced critical topics, and provided research for small group discussions.
The focus during the morning included the challenges for towns in supporting educational costs, Foundation Budget changes, inadequate coverage of increasing education cost areas like transportation and special education, and relief for small and rural schools. Legislators shared their work on new and proposed legislation focusing on these issues of education funding at the state level.
William Diehl, Executive Director of CES, noted, “This gathering is a unique opportunity for the region’s superintendents to connect with legislators as a group and share the complex concerns that western Massachusetts K-12 districts face with school financing. Our district leaders meet and work together frequently to surface and identify both the amazing accomplishments of our districts as well as the very critical educational and funding challenges we face. We are excited to tackle these challenges and generate solutions together and this will be a great step in doing so.”