State school board leader encourages lobbying for more aid

  • Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, recommended the Pioneer Valley Regional School Committee lobby its representatives at a recent meeting. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

For the Gazette
Published: 1/24/2018 12:01:57 AM

NORTHFIELD — Massachusetts Association of School Committees Executive Director Glenn Koocher believes the economic climate is right for local school committees to lobby their representatives in hopes of increasing state education funding.

Koocher spoke before the Pioneer Valley Regional School District School Committee during its Jan. 10 special meeting, reminding the committee of its lobbying role as the district’s budget season gets underway.

In particular, Koocher pointed to a state surplus. A Jan. 12 State House News Service article reported the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation indicated tax collections are running nearly $730 million above benchmarks through December.

“The economic forecast’s pretty bold,” Koocher said. “We’re hoping we’ll see some strategic action by our legislators.”

The State House News Service reported that the Department of Revenue, budget-tracking think tanks and Massachusetts economists provided estimates of revenue growth at a revenue projection hearing in December, with growth projections coming in as low as 2.8 percent and as high as 6.1 percent. The consensus revenue figure announced on Jan. 12 is closest to the 3.3 percent to 4.1 percent growth range estimate offered by the Department of Revenue.

However, the article cautioned that state leaders have overestimated tax collections in recent years, and pointed to uncertainty at the federal level.

“We must always be cautious when predicting revenue growth, especially given recent volatility and increased uncertainty for the coming year,” Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka is quoted. “This projection of modest growth reflects these uncertainties, along with a recent upswing in economic trends.”

Still, Koocher recommended local school committees ask their legislators to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program, reinstate transportation funding and/or increase Chapter 70 reimbursement. School committees, he added, have been particularly effective in lobbying the Legislature.

“We think that the climate is right to ask for it,” Koocher said, praising the legislature for past support for education. “The Legislature has been the one place we could go for understanding and relief.”




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