CHESTERFIELD — As the state eyes changing the way it funds public education, rural schools are asking that the law take into account the unique challenges their districts face and establish rural school aid.
The Massachusetts Rural Schools Coalition, led by Michael Buoniconti, the superintendent of the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont Regional School districts, went to Boston on Thursday to push for these changes to Chapter 70 state education funding on behalf of rural schools.
Across the state, enrollment in rural schools decreased by 14 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Rural school administrators say that, as enrollment declines, their districts can’t cut costs such as staffing and building maintenance, which leads to overhead problems.
For people who work in small, rural schools, this pinch can mean taking on extra duties.
“It’s juggling a lot of hats — that’s part of being rural,” Superintendent and Principal Gretchen Morse-Dobosz, of RH Conwell Elementary School in Worthington, said of her job.
In addition to being principal and superintendent, Morse-Dobosz is also sometimes a bus monitor and food-service delivery person. Once a week, she picks up a supply of food for the school from New Hingham Elementary on her way to work.
“I’ve ridden the bus as a bus monitor to cut costs … $20 per day can make a difference,” she said.