In full transparency, the following is a press release
ASHLAND – State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis and his colleagues passed a balanced Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) conference budget on July 9, with increased funding in education, mental health services, and several other programs and services aimed to combat negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This budget will support families and communities as we begin to recover from the pandemic. It is so important that we invest in programs and services that will support the growing needs of our families, communities, and the Commonwealth as we emerge from this uniquely challenging time,” said Rep. Lewis.
The Conference Committee Budget includes expanded Chapter 70 funding, which provides financial support for public education.
The 7th Middlesex District will receive $8,018,443 in Chapter 70 funding for the town of Ashland, an increase of $80,820 over Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). Framingham will receive $57,034,315, an increase of $279,090.
In order to help school districts recover from the losses of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget creates an enrollment reserve fund of $40 million while investing in the unique needs of students as a result of lengthy social isolation, both educational and social-emotional. The budget includes $6 million towards Social Emotional Learning Grants to K-12 schools, including a new $1 million program serving to provide mental health screenings for students K-12. To continue addressing the needs of negatively impacted students and families, the budget further provides $15 million to summer education and other support services, as well as a $20 million investment in rate increases for child care providers across the Commonwealth.
Other education investments include:
$388.4 million – Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts at 75% for the cost of educating students with disabilities
$154.6 million – Reimbursing school districts at 75% for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
$82.2 million – Regional school transportation
$50 million – Adult Basic Education
$27.9 million – Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program
$367 million – Special Education Circuit Breaker
$154 million – Charter School Aid
$82 million – Regional Transportation
$14 million – Homeless Student Transportation.
The FY22 Conference Committee Budget especially serves to aid families as they recover from the pandemic by investing in early education, health services, and transitional aid programs. $820 million is invested into the early education center, which includes $15 million towards Head Start Programs and $20 million to increase early education provider rates. $98.4 million goes towards children’s mental health services and $25 million to improve mental health programs and resources for Family Resource Centers. Transitional Aid to families with dependent children and Emergency Aid for the elderly, disabled, and children will be increased 20%. The budget also repeals the asset limits on Transitional Aid to families with dependent children in order to create the most accessibility to families suffering financially.
Other family resource investments include:
$12 million – Child care resource and referral agencies;
$5 million – Early Education and Care (EEC) higher education provider opportunities; and
$2.5 million – Early childhood mental health grants.
$24 million – Youthworks Summer Jobs
$5 million – Small Business Technical Assistance
$5 million – Community Action Agency Operating and Outreach Support
Of particular note to Ashland, Framingham & the MetroWest region:
$10,934,353 – Framingham Unrestricted General Government Aid, an increase of $369,761 over FY21
$1,486,242 – Ashland Unrestricted General Government Aid, an increase of $50,259
$350,000 – Mental health needs in schools in the Metrowest region, an increase of $100,000
$25,000 – Framingham Fostering Opioid Recovery Compassion and Education,
$12,500 – Framingham department of public health for a behavioral health system navigation and referral program
$25,000 – Framingham Southside Opportunity Zone planning
$20,000 – Downtown Framingham, Inc
$25,000 – Framingham public schools for playground accessibility improvements
$25,000 – Framingham Public Schools Welcome Center
$20,000 – Ashland Emergency Fund, to provide services to families struggling with food insecurity in the town of Ashland
$25,000 – Ashland downtown reconstruction project