Editorial: Monday Shorts: Beds for kids

  • State representatives, farmers and others involved in agriculture take an apple blossom tour of Apex Orchards in Shelburne on Tuesday to discuss the importance of farms and food systems. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 5/17/2021 9:00:59 AM

Here are some brief thoughts on recent happenings in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region.

It looks like a match made in heaven, bringing together a LaunchSpace woodworking shop in the Orange Innovation Center with a “community build” event to make bed frames for North Quabbin kids. The matchmaker is Scott Hubbard of Orange, who, with his wife, Tammy, have already built 23 beds for children in the region. They are looking to start a North Quabbin chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nationwide nonprofit with 250 chapters; its Massachusetts branch is based in Acton.

The Hubbards plan on starting a local chapter to continue to serve the area’s most vulnerable youngsters. Already on board is the Pioneer Junior Women’s Club, which has donated money to help buy new bedding, and LaunchSpace CEO and co-founder Bianna Drohen, which hosted the event.

As Drohen said, “Once Scott explained what the organization is and does, how can you say no to that?”

Last Saturday’s goal was to make 10 twin bed frames. We hope this is just the start for a North Quabbin chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

Rural Schools Commission a reality

It seems like forever that Franklin County schools have complained of being underfunded by the state. In the 1960s, the state dangled a carrot in front of small rural school districts. Regionalize, the state said, and we'll pick up your busing costs. Well, that promise lasted until the late 1980s, when state funding for regional school busing was reduced.

Since then, it has been an ongoing battle to secure permanent, equitable funding for rural school districts, which spend 50 percent more on school transportation and more per pupil for teachers and paraprofessionals because of declining enrollments.

Our legislators have won significant increases in various kinds of aid on a yearly basis, but the holy grail is to permanently fund rural school districts. That goal achieved a milestone with the first meeting of the state’s Rural Schools Commission, chaired by state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. Natalie Blais. Hinds and Blais want to see rural school aid become permanent, not just a line item requiring annual skirmishes.

“One of the biggest issues,” Hinds said, “will be to take rural school aid and make it a permanent part of the annual budget, make it part of the formula.”

The commission will see the work through to legislation that will dictate how rural school aid is determined in the future. “This commission and its work is a big win for the region,” Blais said. Other schools that have low or declining enrollment could end up being included as well, which broadens the commission’s potential base of support.

This is just one example of how our legislators are working for us.

Orchard tour draws legislators to Franklin County

In another example last week, Blais enticed state representatives from outside our area to take an “apple blossom tour” through Apex Orchards in Shelburne last week. Legislators from across the state sat side by side in an open-air wagon with local farmers, talking about their favorite local farms and markets.

“That’s what this is all about — building relationships,” Blais said.

At least two wins came out of this event: Drawing attention to our Buy Local campaign to help farmers, and tying agriculture to tourism and the environment. That’s something all Massachusetts legislators can get behind.


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