Reading Native Joe DiBacco “Immensely Enjoyed” Interning for Representative Haggerty’s Office

Representative Richard M. Haggerty is proud to announce Reading native Joe DiBacco as a legislative intern hire for Fall 2019. Joe was responsible for speech editing and managing administrative and legislative related duties at the Representative’s State House Office.

Joe recently graduated from Trinity College in May where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, being a four-time recipient of Faculty Honors during his time there. Joe developed an interest in politics during his time interning for both Connecticut State Senator Joan Hartley and Minority Leader Bradley Jones, with him most recently canvassing for Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur’s successful mayoral campaign.

“I immensely enjoyed the time I spent working for Rep. Haggerty’s office,’ said Joe DiBacco. “I had the opportunity to work on a handful of speeches with the Representative which I loved, and I enjoyed researching legislation as well. I learned a lot from this experience, and wish I could have stayed longer.”

 “It was great having a Joe apart of our team this fall,” said Rep. Haggerty. “He brought with him strong writing skills, attention to detail, and fresh insight that were immensely helpful during a very active Fall legislative period. His presence will be missed in our office, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Joe recently finished his 6-week Fall Internship with Rep. Haggerty’s office. The Representative’s office will be continuing the internship program through Winter/Spring 2020, and is in the process of considering the application packages of potential interns from the 30th Middlesex District.

For more information on interning with Representative Haggerty’s office, please contact his legislative aide at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or call (617) 722-2090.

Reading Fire Department receives $2,496 state grant

BOSTON – The Reading Fire Department has been awarded a $2,496 state grant to purchase new safety gear for its firefighters.

Reading is one of 144 communities to be awarded funding through the Firefighter Turnout Gear Grant program.

The grants were announced by the Baker-Polito Administration on December 10, and will be used to purchase approximately 3,000 hoods and 3,000 pairs of gloves for structural firefighting activities across the state.

“Firefighters are constantly exposed to carcinogens and other on-the-job hazards that place them at an increased risk for cancer and other serious health issues,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).  “This grant money will allow the Reading Fire Department to secure critical protective gear to help enhance the safety of our local firefighters.”

“Making sure our public safety officials have the necessary resources is a critical component of keeping our community safe,” said Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn). “This nearly $2,500 grant will ensure the Reading Fire Department is properly equipped to meet the daily challenges they face to keep the town and its residents safe.”

“Over the past years, our fire departments have become all too familiar with the health hazards posed by smoke and other fire byproducts, and we owe it to our first responders to get them the equipment they need to stay healthy and safe,” said Senator Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester). “This grant award will have a considerable impact for the Reading Fire Department and help our community keep our firefighters safe.”

The Firefighter Turnout Gear Grant program was created as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, and is administered through the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services within the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.  A total of $500,000 in grants were awarded to fire departments across the Commonwealth under this program. “Replacing old and damaged turnout gear is a financial challenge for most every department in the Commonwealth” said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey. “These grant awards will ensure that a significant number of firefighters have access to hoods and gloves that will effectively protect them from exposure to dangerous contaminants, and that is one of the best things we can do for them to reduce the risk of a future cancer diagnosis.” d0 L

Representative Haggerty Accepting Applications for 2020 Winter – Spring State House Internships

BOSTON – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty is searching for motivated, civic-minded individuals interested in a Winter to Spring internship in his office at the Massachusetts State House. Representative Haggerty proudly represents the people of the 30th Middlesex District of Massachusetts, which includes the city of Woburn and town of Reading.

Interns will have the rewarding opportunity to experience policymaking, politics and government from the inside the State House. Although unpaid, interns will obtain invaluable experience by witnessing and participating in the day-to-day functioning of a State Representative’s office. Interns will report mainly to Anthony Langone, Legislative Aide to Rep. Haggerty, and will be responsible for assisting with a variety of tasks ranging from constituent correspondence, scheduling, legislative research, database management, to communications and social media assignments.

Interns will also have the opportunity to attend various events held at the State House such as hearings, meetings, and listening to guest speakers. Interns in Representative Haggerty’s office will gain the satisfaction of serving the Commonwealth along with being able to add beneficial experience to their resume.

Interns should have excellent written and verbal communication skills, a high level of attention to detail, be able to conduct themselves professionally, and respect for confidentiality. Candidates must also be proficient with Microsoft Office applications along with major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Candidates with a particular interest in communications, public relations, graphic design, video production or social media should indicate so in their application. Candidates should send a resume with a brief cover letter of interest, and a 2-3 page writing sample to Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov by end of day Friday, December 27th, 2019. References should be available upon request and if potential applicants have any questions, please call (617) 722-2090. Acc

Legislature Passes Bill to Promote Children’s Health and Wellness

BOSTON – This week, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) joined their legislative colleagues in passing An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness to increase access to vital behavioral health services for children in the Commonwealth. The conference committee appointed to reconcile the different language in the Senate and House bills filed compromise language on Monday afternoon.

The conference committee was led by Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), the co-chairs of the Health Care Financing Committee. Its other members were Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee chairs Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) as well as Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth).

“There are several barriers to access for children in the Commonwealth who are in need of behavioral health services, and this legislation takes several steps to address them,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’m especially proud that this comprehensive bill requires provider network directories to be more transparent and include accurate, up-to-date information to help connect children with the mental health providers that they need. I want to acknowledge Senate President Spilka for putting mental health initiatives at the forefront of our legislative agenda this session as well as sincerely thank Rep. Benson and all of the conferees for their hard work on this issue and their commitment to improving children’s behavioral health services in our state.”

Keeping with the Legislature’s commitment to increase and streamline access to health care, the Children’s Health and Wellness bill will ensure that consumers have the best information available to meet their health needs. Several barriers to care exist for children in need of behavioral health services, partially due to the lack of accurate, up-to-date information listed on provider network directories. More often than not, these directories – often criticized as “ghost networks” – list providers that are no longer in business, do not accept a patient’s insurance, are not taking new patients, or provide inaccurate information. These obstacles keep patients from accessing the care they need, frequently forcing them to abandon seeking treatment.

“Expanding access to behavioral health services for children and connecting families with mental health professionals is one of the most important things we can do to support families in the commonwealth,” said Representative Haggerty. “This children’s wellness legislation will make sure we have better data on children with medical complexities and extends health care for kids in foster care. All of these steps will make our youth live healthier lives.”

To mitigate this barrier to access, this legislation requires insurers’ provider network directories to be more transparent and include the most up-to-date list of participating doctors and specialists and their services. The legislation also forms a task force to study and recommend further improvements to provider directories – particularly information about behavioral health providers.

“Some of the most vulnerable young people are foster children and those with behavioral or complex medical issues, which means that caring for them is particularly critical for us as a Commonwealth,” said Representative Ciccolo.  “In passing this legislation, we have helped to ensure that these kids are able to continue their health care without interruption, creating a foundation for better access to services and care.”

In addition, this legislation addresses issues related to health care access for children who have aged out of the foster care system by automatically enrolling them in MassHealth. Under this bill, individuals under the age of 26 who were previously under Department of Children and Families (DCF) custody, or in foster care when they turned 18 years old, would automatically receive the benefit of MassHealth coverage.

The legislation also directs the Health Policy Commission (HPC), in consultation with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), to conduct a study and analysis of children with medically complex needs in the Commonwealth. The analysis would include information on health care coverage, access to services, services utilized, and the cost of caring for children with medical complexities.

Additionally, the legislation establishes a pilot program creating three regional Childhood Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence. Each center will act as a resource for families, clinicians, and school districts, with comprehensive information on services in the area for minors in early childhood through adolescence. Each center will maintain updated lists of available pediatric providers, and a staffed telephone number and email address for parents to request information.

The bill addresses several other pressing pediatric health care issues by creating special commissions on the pediatric provider workforce, school-based health centers, and mandated reporter laws, as well as establishing a task force on pediatric behavioral health screening.

The Children’s Health and Wellness Bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature. To track the progress of the legislation, visit: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4210.

Woburn Delegation Votes to Enact the Student Opportunity Act

BOSTON – On November 20, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) joined their legislative colleagues in voting to enact the Student Opportunity Act. This legislation, providing an unprecedented $1.5 billion new investment in Massachusetts K-12 public education system, ensures public schools have the resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, over time the bill will provide an estimated $2.2 billion.

The Student Opportunity Act ensures that all school districts across the Commonwealth benefit from updates to the existing funding formula, as well as receive increased state investments in vital education aid programs such as special education transportation, school construction and renovation, and the 21st Century Education Program. The legislation also provides significant support to school districts that serve English language learners or have high concentrations of low-income students.

“The passage of this bill embodies the Legislature’s commitment to improving our public education system for every student in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman. “This bill will ensure that every community in our district has adequate resources to provide high quality education to all. I commend my colleagues for putting public education at the forefront of our shared agenda, and am excited to see the positive impact this historic bill will make on schools in my district when the bill becomes law.”

“This is a historic investment in education that will provide Woburn and the rest of the Commonwealth with the critical resources it requires to ensure each child receives a first-rate education,” said Representative Haggerty. “As a member of the Joint Committee on Education and as a former municipal official, I can assure you this bill will deliver the necessary support communities along with school districts both need, and deserve.”

“As a candidate, I campaigned on the promise of lifting all schools in the Commonwealth because it is the right thing to do—no family should have to uproot and move to a new town in order to ensure their children receive an excellent education in Massachusetts,” said Representative Ciccolo.  “It is remarkable to have been able to bring that promise to fruition with the passage of the Student Opportunity Act.  This bill is the critical step we as a Commonwealth must take to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in our schools.”

The Student Opportunity Act fully implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) in order to support the “educational programs and services necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s educational goals” as stated in the Commission’s mission. The bill provides an estimated $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation when fully implemented over the next seven years. The bill modernizes the K-12 education funding and policy landscape in four areas:

  • Estimates school districts’ employee and retiree health care costs using up-to-date health insurance trend data collected by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC);
  • Increases special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment;
  • Increases funding for English learners (EL) and differentiates funding by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate our older EL students;
  • Addresses the needs of districts educating high concentrations of low-income students by:
    • Providing additional funding based on the share of low-income students in each district;
    • Districts educating the largest percentage of low-income students will receive an additional increment equal to 100 percent of the base foundation; and
    • Returning the definition of low-income to 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, as opposed to the 133 percent level used in recent years.

To ensure that education funding levels remain adequate, effective and equitable, the legislation includes forward-looking provisions to address additional funding challenges and policy areas. The bill would direct the Department of Revenue (DOR) and DESE to analyze the method of determining required local contributions in the Chapter 70 school funding formula for the purpose of improving equity, predictability and accuracy. It would also establish a Rural Schools Commission to investigate the unique challenges facing rural and regional school districts with low and declining enrollment.

The legislation would create a “21st Century Education Trust Fund” to support schools and districts pursuing innovative approaches to learning, increase the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s annual spending cap by $200 million to allow for more school building and construction projects, set up a three-year timeline to fully fund charter school tuition reimbursements, increase foundation rates for guidance and psychological services, and expand a special education reimbursement program to include transportation costs.

In order to track and reproduce successful school and district-level programs and policies, the legislation calls on school districts to develop and make publicly available plans for closing opportunity gaps. These plans will include specific goals and metrics to track success. The bill also establishes a Data Advisory Commission to help improve the use of data at the state-, district-, and school-level to inform strategies that strengthen teaching, learning and resource allocation. The bill increases the scope of data collected and moves towards establishing targets for college and career success.

The bill requires the Foundation Budget Review Commission to convene at least every ten years to review the way foundation budgets are calculated and ensure the school funding formula continues to reflect the needs of school districts across the Commonwealth.

The Student Opportunity Act will also allow school districts to establish a local reserve fund to pay for unanticipated or unbudgeted costs of students attending recovery high schools – high schools that provide, in addition to traditional academic curriculum, a safe, sober, and supportive school environment for students with substance use disorder. In addition, the bill will direct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to determine the appropriate per pupil costs at recovery high schools to better inform future policy regarding staffing and funding levels needed to ensure the quality and sustainability of these schools. Both of these provisions were added to the bill via amendments filed by Senator Friedman, who has been a staunch advocate for recovery high schools.

“I’m particularly proud that this bill includes provisions I fought for to support our state’s successful Recovery High School system,” said Senator Friedman. “These schools have been tremendously successful – resulting in higher graduation rates, lower absenteeism, and the opportunity for students to develop skills needed for personal, academic, vocational and community success.”

The bill was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

Massachusetts General Court Passes Distracted Driving Legislation

(BOSTON) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), along with their colleagues in the House and Senate, voted yesterday to enact legislation to ban motorists from using hand-held electronic devices in vehicles unless they are in hands-free mode.

“The safety of our residents is paramount,” said Senator Friedman. “This long overdue bill will protect our drivers and pedestrians as well as reduce the rate of tragic accidents caused by distracted driving on our roads. I’m proud the Legislature passed this commonsense bill, and am grateful that our busy roads and highways in the 4th Middlesex will become safer for everyone as a result.”

Hands-free mode is defined as voice communication with a mobile electronic device without touching, holding, or otherwise manually manipulating it.  Law enforcement officials will initially issue warnings to drivers for first offenses during a three month grace period starting when the new law goes into effect on March 31, 2020. 

“This distracted driving legislation will make our roadways safer for everyone,” said Representative Haggerty.  “Ensuring drivers put down their phones and concentrate on the road is a common sense step that will better protect both motorists, and the general public, from preventative accidents.”

In response to concerns about racial disparities in interactions with law enforcement, the bill includes a civil rights dimension.  The legislation improves transparency in public safety by granting expanded access to traffic stop data. It has been 15 years since the last public report on such data, and this bill will require it to be published and analyzed annually.  Expanding access to this information—including age, race, and gender, as well as the location of a stop when a police officer issues a uniform citation—will help hold law enforcement agencies accountable.  If the data suggests a jurisdiction may be engaging in racial profiling, that department would be required to collect data on all traffic stops for one year and provide implicit bias training.

“As a strong bicycle and pedestrian advocate, I have long been a strong supporter of banning the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving,” said Representative Ciccolo.“Operating a vehicle is a full time activity, and drivers who take their eyes off the road endanger not only themselves, but everyone around them. To that end, this bill will save lives while taking critical steps to ensure the law is not used as a way to unduly target drivers because of their race.”

The legislation will also:

  • Allow for drivers to use mapping or navigation devices if they are affixed to the windshield, dashboard, or central console, or integrated into the vehicle and only involve a single tap or swipe;
  • Exempt the use of electronics in the case of an emergency and for first responders if they are using the devices as part of their duties;
  • Penalize drivers with a $100 fine for the first offense, a $250 fine and safety course for the second offense, and a $500 fine and surcharge for third and subsequent offenses;
  • Require the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPPS) to publish data online annually;
  • Mandate EOPSS to contract with a research institution in order to conduct an annual analysis of the data collected;
  • Direct the EOPSS Secretary to hold three public hearings across the Commonwealth annually to present the findings of the annual report and analysis, and field public testimony; and
  • Create a public awareness campaign educating drivers on the dangers of using handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.

The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

WOBURN DELEGATION TO HOST WOBURN SENIOR CENTER ICE CREAM SOCIAL

BOSTON — Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) will be hosting an Ice Cream Social at the Woburn Senior Center Thursday, November 21st.

WHO: State Senator Cindy F. Friedman, Representative Richard M. Haggerty, Representative Michelle Ciccolo

WHAT: Ice Cream Social with the Woburn State House Delegation

WHERE: Woburn Senior Center, 144 School Street, Woburn, MA 01801

WHEN: Thursday, November 21st from 1:00pm–2:30pm.

For questions please contact Anthony Langone, Legislative Aide to Representative Richard M. Haggerty, at (617) 722-2090 or Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov.

House Passes Legislation to Support and Honor Veterans

BOSTON – Yesterday, days before the nation celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington),along with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, voted to unanimously pass two pieces of legislation, which would improve mental health care for student veterans and honor the military service contributions of a female American Revolutionary War soldier.

The first bill establishes a continuing education program – administered by the University of Massachusetts Medical School – to train public higher education counselors to recognize the symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to familiarize them with available resources for treatment for veterans attending state colleges and universities. The legislation aims to provide the necessary training for both clinical and non-clinical counselors working to support the unique needs of the more than 2,500 veteran students attending the commonwealth’s 29 public institutions of higher learning.

The second bill provides for a 15 member commission to design a memorial in honor of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The commission will consist of legislators, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services, the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth, and representatives of veteran organizations.

“As our veterans transition from military to civilian life, it important that counselors are familiar and prepared to meet the challenges they face every single day. This bill will improve mental health care at our state institutions and ensure counselors are properly trained to aid those affected by conditions such as PTSD, providing the necessary care our Commonwealth’s veterans both need and deserve,” said Representative Haggerty. “We also honor our female service members past and present through the commissioning of this memorial, recognizing the service of one of our nation’s great patriots, Deborah Sampson.”

In 1782, Sampson used the name Robert Shurtleff to join the elite Fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment led by Captain George Webb at West Point, NY. Over the following year and a half, she participated in dangerous scouting missions, led a raid that brought about the capture of 15 Tory men, and stormed a British fort during the Siege of Yorktown.

Over the course of her service, Sampson sustained injuries including a forehead gash from a sword and a gunshot wound to the thigh. For the latter, she removed the bullet herself to avoid detection as a woman. When she later fell seriously ill and was hospitalized, her identity was discovered. On October 23, 1783, she received an honorable discharge and was the only woman to receive a full military pension for her service in the Continental Army. John Hancock and Paul Revere assisted her in obtaining her military pension, and General John Patterson selected her as his aide de camp due to her bravery and leadership. Sampson is the official state heroine of Massachusetts.

“When Deborah Sampson bravely donned her disguise and enlisted to serve her country seven years after the ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, she could hardly have imagined that even 236 years later, women would still struggle for their voices to be heard in the nation she fought for,” said Representative Ciccolo.  “Deborah was the first of many brave Americans who, due to their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity, had to inexplicably fight for the privilege and honor of serving the country we all love.  She set an example, and it is up to us to continue honoring those who serve by pushing to allow everyone to do so openly and with pride, and providing them with the quality education and mental health care services they need and deserve when they come home.”

The two bills build on the House’s longstanding support for veterans, with Massachusetts’ benefits and services often ranked as first in the nation. Most recently, the General Court passed the BRAVE Act as well as legislation to assist veterans with funeral and burial expenses and property taxes.  The bills will now go to the Senate.

Representative Haggerty to Host Senior Charlie Card Event in Reading

Part of his ongoing effort to deliver increased public transportation options and assist seniors with living independently in their community, State Representative Richard M. Haggerty is partnering with the MBTA in sponsoring a “Senior Charlie Card” registration event at the Pleasant Street Center. The event will provide local seniors the opportunity to receive a discounted Senior Charlie Card pass for use on MBTA bus, rail, and subway systems. All Reading residents who are 65 years or older are highly encouraged to attend. 

The event will take place at the Pleasant Street Center, 49 Pleasant Street in Reading starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 8th, with members of Representative Haggerty’s staff and volunteers from the Center on hand to assist with applications. Eligible seniors must be new to the Senior Charlie Card program and present a government-issued photo ID, where they will then fill out a registration form along with having their photos taken.

“I would like to thank the MBTA and the staff at the Pleasant Street Center for making such an event possible, bringing the program and transportation benefits it provides directly to our seniors”, said Representative Haggerty. “I encourage eligible residents of Reading and the surrounding communities to join me at the Senior Center to take advantage of this important opportunity.”

A Senior Charlie Card provides the holder with discounted rates to ride buses for 85 cents, subways for $1.10, inner express buses for $2.10, and outer express buses for $2.60. Seniors can also travel on commuter rail or ferry services for 50 percent off the regular full fare. In addition, seniors can purchase a monthly pass, which is good for unlimited travel on local buses and subways for $30. No discounts apply to express bus passes, commuter rail passes, or boat passes.

Representative Bradley Jones will also be in attendance for the event alongside Representative Haggerty to meet with residents and answer any questions they may have. Those with questions are also encouraged to contact Rep. Haggerty’s Legislative Aide at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov and (617) 722-2090, or the Pleasant Street Center at (781) 942-6796.

Haggerty, Jones vote for Student Opportunity Act as it passes House

BOSTON – On October 23, Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) and Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn), a member of the Joint Committee on Education, joined their House colleagues in unanimously passing the Student Opportunity Act, which would invest an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Massachusetts K-12 public education. The bill significantly helps school districts that serve high percentages of low-income students by increasing the low-income increment to 100% for them.

Passed unanimously by the Senate on October 3rd, the Student Opportunity Act fully implements the four recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), which revolved around low-income students, English language learners (ELL), special education/circuit breaker, and employee health costs.  It is also estimated to provide $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid when fully implemented over the next seven years.

“The bill represents the culmination of years of work and many months of legislative consideration,” said Representative Jones.  “The resources it directs towards school districts throughout the Commonwealth will, over time, reduce the gaps in achievement between districts, enhancing the long term opportunities for success for all our youth.”

“This historic investment in education will provide Reading and rest of the Commonwealth with the additional resources it needs to make sure every child receives a terrific education,” said Representative Haggerty. “As a member of the Joint Committee on Education and former local official, I can tell you this bill will deliver the kind of support municipalities need and our school districts deserve.”

The needs of districts educating high numbers of students from low-income households are addressed in this legislation by providing additional funding based on the share of low-income students.  Returning the definition of low-income to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level, as opposed to the 133% level that has been used in recent years, will allow districts educating the largest percentage of low-income students to receive an additional funding while bringing their increment equal to 100% of the base foundation.

In addition to money for low-income students, the bill increases foundation rates for guidance and psychological services that will support expanded social–emotional supports and mental health services.  It also expands the special education circuit breaker, which reimburses districts for extraordinary special education costs, to include transportation costs in addition to instructional costs, phased in over four years.

The Student Opportunity Act benefits the students of the Commonwealth in several other ways by:

  • Fully funding charter tuition reimbursements, which provide transitional aid to help districts when students leave to attend charter schools, within a three-year timetable.
  • Lifting the annual cap on Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) spending for school building construction and renovation by $150 million (from $600 million to $750 million), enabling more projects across the state to be accepted into the MSBA funding pipeline.
  • Establishes the “21st Century Education Trust Fund” to provide flexible funding to districts and schools pursuing creative approaches to student learning and district improvement.

Given the differences between the versions of the Student Opportunity Act that passed the House Wednesday and the Senate two weeks ago, the legislation will now go to a Conference Committee for deliberation. fffffffffffff