Gov. Patrick pledges stimulus money for school districts

Aaron Wasserman

Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday he would spend $168 million of the state’s portion of the federal stimulus bill to boost local school districts’ budgets to what state funding formulas say is an adequate size.

Many school districts would receive money from the proposal, including $3.5 million for Framingham, which has a budget shortfall for next school year of about $6.5 million.

Patrick detailed his plan Thursday morning at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham, after students serenaded him with the school’s song and asked him questions at an assembly.

The extra money would not fully cover all of the deficits school districts face because of the recession, officials said; however, it would close the gap between what their budgets would be if they receive the same amount of state education aid next year, as Patrick has proposed, and the total amount needed to meet what is known as the “foundation,” or adequately sized, budget.

“We can’t avoid every tough decision in public education,” Patrick said at a news conference in a second-floor classroom, but the extra money “would soften the blow.”

His proposal needs to be approved by the state Legislature.

State Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, one of several state officials at the news conference, said he expects the Legislature will vote on the matter as part of its budget process, which will unfold over the next month.

“I’m just so happy we’re focusing on education and properly funding education,” Sannicandro said. “For cities and towns, when they’re focusing on budgets and laying off teachers, this is really good news that we can stem that tide."

MetroWest Daily News