The following is a press release.
FRAMINGHAM – Last night the City of Framingham’s School Committee, including Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer, Superintendent Robert A. Tremblay, and Student Advisory Committee Chair Nicholas Small adopted a resolution in support of increased federal support and stimulus funding for public education.
Due to the cancellation of in-person learning and the fiscal impacts caused by COVID-19, public school systems are facing difficult decisions about how to allocate dwindling financial resources to sustain high-quality instruction and other essential services for students and families over the next several years.
Additionally, as a way to keep the community informed of these ongoing developments, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Tremblay announced that on Wednesday May 27 he would be holding a webinar for the community to learn about the budget status for next school year, and offer the opportunity for questions to him and the FPS Director of Finance and Operations Lincoln Lynch.
The resolution highlights the immense instructional challenge of unfinished learning that many students will face coming out of this school year and the need to prioritize federal funding for education support.
Any funding allocated by the federal government to the Framingham Public Schools (FPS), would provide critical additional resources, thereby helping support the health and safety of the students, teachers, staff, and the larger community.
This resolution was drafted for the School Committee based on a template provided by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) and the City of Boston School Committee. Click here for the resolution.
“When we began building the FY21 budget in early fall, we had no idea that just months later our economy, our healthcare system, social behaviors, and teaching and learning, among so many more institutionalized practices, would be forever changed,” said Superintendent Robert A. Tremblay. “We remain grounded, however, by the held beliefs and mission of our schools as expressed through our strategic goals yet we must learn to be nimble as we prioritize initiatives in the wake of so many challenges. We must never lose sight of the needs of our students – now greater than ever – in our reframing of education for the foreseeable future.”
The current FPS budget under consideration by city leaders results in at least a $3.3 million level services shortfall. This gap exists after all new initiatives and spending plans have been postponed. Level service increases are driven by year-to-year drivers.
Next fiscal year, FPS has carefully planned for projected increases in enrollment (more than 220 new students over last school year), contractual obligations for educators, new special education expenditures required by law, and, moreover, increased social, emotional, behavioral, and public health initiatives to plan for a return from months of closure due to COVID-19.
This shortfall does not yet include any additional spending to potentially be required by public health officials in order to return to school safely.
For the latest status report on FPS FY21 budget planning, including FY20 end of year projections and federal/state reimbursement plans due to COVID-19, click here.
The resolution also highlights the many ways FPS has supported the community since the impacts of COVID-19 began in March. To date, the more than 1,800 employees have worked around the clock to continue to provide more than 9,000 FPS students and their families with access to food, Wi-Fi, and other educational needs, distributing more than 1,000 meals per day for a total of 41,000, and over 3,300 Chromebooks.
Framingham Public School teachers, counselors, social workers, support staff, and administrators are making a direct reach to families; school nurses are supporting the City’s Department of Public Health with COVID-19 contract tracing; food service staff is ensuring that meals are available each day to our students; and translators and interpreters are ensuring that lessons and messaging are made available to families in multiple languages.
“We are taking extraordinary steps in extraordinary times to cease new initiatives in a time of dire student need and enrollment surges to do the financial bare minimum in the field of education, where the maximum effort is traditionally what we pursue and value,” said Adam Freudberg, Chair of the Framingham School Committee, District 4. “The best hope to minimize the direct loss of education support for our kids and educators is by direct federal government action. This resolution will help our state and federal elected officials in their continued pursuit for nationwide support for educators and school districts.”
There is precedence for federal action to provide critical support for education during tough economic times.
In 2010, Congress allocated $10 billion in additional funding for the Education Jobs Fund to help school districts retain existing employees, recall former employees, and hire new ones, and allocated $100 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment with investments in both the education stabilization fund and various federal categorical programs for public schools, such as Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Act.