Friday, February 11, 2000
METCO funding for Concord cut by $30,000
The Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle High School will receive an estimated $30,000 reduction in the amount of funds it will receive for next year from the state for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunites (METCO) program. State Commissioner of Education David Driscoll recently sent a memo to the school districts that participate in the program listing cuts in funding for METCO.
Concord School Superintendent Ed Mavragis said at the February 3 regional school committee meeting that the program has been level funded by the state for the last 17 years and now the state is cutting funds. "The real issue is the money is not there," he said "The METCO program will continue to erode by inaction by the state." He said he would like to see the same funding support received for METCO students as that given for School Choice students. Mavragis said that other towns, such as Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston, will experience METCO funding cuts as high as $200,000.
Currently, the funds Concord receives from the state cover all costs for transporting students between Boston and Concord. The state also reimburses the town for 100 percent of all special education costs for METCO students. The remaining funds received from the state average out to about $2,000 a year for each METCO student.
The METCO program began 35 years ago to allow minority students from the city to attend suburban schools in Massachusetts and also to help desegregate suburban schools. The Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional High School have participated in the program since 1967.
Carlisle representative Cindy Nock and other school committee members recently attended a meeting of the Suburban Coalition, a group of town officials from 65 suburban communities who lobby for increased state support for towns and schools. Nock said the group is pushing for more state funding for special education costs that are mandated by the state. The group is also lobbying for an increase in state funding for regular education students, Chapter 70 funding. She explained that the coalition is trying to change legislation to have the state reimburse school districts a minimum of 25 percent of the foundation level spending per pupil. The state-mandated foundation level of school spending is currently set at approximately $5,000 per student, according to Nock.
Last year, the Suburban Coalition worked successfully to help pass the so-called "circuit breaker" legislation to provide tax relief to senior citizens experiencing large property tax increases, based on income level. The group invites area legislators to meetings and will host a breakfast with legislators this April at the State House.
Breast Cancer Walk
On June 2-4, a group of 2,000-3,000 people will travel through Concord on a walk to raise funds for breast cancer research. The walk, sponsored by Avon Cosmetics, will begin in Leominster with walkers camping in tents at the former Fort Devens base in Ayer before walking to Concord. The walkers plan to camp overnight on the fields at Alcott Elementary School in Concord on June 3 and will walk to Boston on the last day of the event. The RSC approved the walkers camping out on school grounds and gave their support for the event.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito