Triton Superintendent, Brian Forget was recently nominated by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr as his designee on the Special Commission on Improving Efficiencies in Student Transportation. Established in the fiscal year 2019 budget process, the Special Commission is tasked with making recommendations on how school districts can improve and implement efficiencies in regards to various student transportation issues.
“I appreciate Senator Tarr’s confidence in selecting me, as he is a strong proponent of the Triton Schools and has a clear understanding of the challenges in a regional school district,” said Forget. “I am excited for this opportunity to further educate those outside the regional structure on the many challenges educational finance structures in Massachusetts create for regional schools across the state.”
From a recent, official press release, Senator Adam Hinds, who is the co-chair of the Special Commission said, “The method and formulas by which our public school districts are funded are flawed, and this impacts the budgets of all our schools.”
School transportation was a hot-button issue during the 2018/19 Fiscal Year budget process. According to MA General Law Chapter 71; Section 16C, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is legally required to fully reimburse regional school districts for transportation costs, subject to appropriation. In recent years, Massachusetts has reduced their funding for these costs, leaving local taxpayers to pick up the tab. The debate was further fueled after State Auditor Suzanne Bump released her 2017 report, “Supporting Student and Community Success; Updating the Structure and Finance of Massachusetts Regional School Districts” which states that the act of fulfilling its promise to fund 100% of transportation costs would have a massive impact on the budgets of all regional school districts and their contributing towns. In a letter to Governor Baker, Ms. Bump writes, “As a Commonwealth, we must prioritize the public education of our children. Fully funding the Commonwealth’s obligation to these institutions is important not only to incentivize school districts to regionalize, but also to allow the school districts to effectively engage in long-term planning and budgeting so they can meet this most important of responsibilities.”
The commission is scheduled to file its report and recommendations with the clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives by December 1, 2019.