Baker signs budget bill with school aid

State House News Service
Friday, February 16, 2018

School districts educating students who fled Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after this summer’s hurricanes are in store for $15 million in state aid, under a budget bill signed Friday afternoon by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The fiscal 2018 supplemental budget also includes $250,000 to hire two staffers and one investigator at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to handle an increase in sexual harassment complaint filings.

Also in the bill: more than $1 million to reimburse municipalities for costs associated with implementing early voting for the Nov. 8, 2016 state election.

As of Jan. 5, Massachusetts public schools had enrolled 2,440 students displaced from Puerto Rico and school districts were continuing to welcome students, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I don’t want to say it hasn’t been challenging, but in most cases, I think they’ve all stepped up,” Education Secretary James Peyser said last month. “They’ve welcomed these students, they’ve incorporated into their classrooms, they’ve provided the kinds of supports and services they need not just to kind of house them while they’re here and during the school day, but to actually continue their learning.”

The school aid will be provided under the formula used for Chapter 70 school aid, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must report to state lawmakers about distributions 15 days before the funds are allocated.