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Political Notebook, Aug. 1, 2018


Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Edwards seeks full funding for special ed

Jonathan Edwards, one of seven Democrats vying for the 1st Franklin District House seat in the Sept. 4 primary, repeated his call this week for full state funding of special education, citing a recent study by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The report concludes that the state has been shortchanging public education by over $1 billion a year for special education as well as $1.5 billion in health insurance benefits.

“Over the past 15 years, there has been a significant shift in the balance of state and local funding for our public schools,” the report concludes. “The state is covering a smaller share of total costs and local cities and towns are covering a larger share. Since FY 2002, local support has increased from 59 percent of net school spending to 65 percent. At a time when our state and national economies are strong, when we should be able to make up lost ground in funding our schools, state aid has been stagnant in recent years and is down from historical levels. Chapter 70 aid declined by $378 million (7.2 percent) between FY 2002 and FY 2018 (when you adjust for the inflation factor in state law). In districts that can’t afford to spend additional local resources, budget conditions have grown increasingly strained. Districts that have contributed more from local resources have been able to make progress towards adequate education funding, but it is not clear how sustainable that will be in the next economic downturn.”

School districts, it says, have been forced to cut teachers, classroom supplies and technology. “Throughout my 14-plus years on the Whately Selectboard, I’ve advocated for the commonwealth to properly fund special education,” said Edwards. “We now have the data we need to prove what we have known in rural Massachusetts for far too long.

If elected, Edwards said, he will make educational funding “a top priority” and work to find consensus to solve these chromic education funding problems, “most notably with special education.”

On the Web: https://bit.ly/2uJtwzw

Primary registration deadline Aug. 15

The last day to register for the State Primary Election on Sept. 4 is Wednesday, Aug. 15. This deadline also includes changing political party or to changing one’s address. Check with your the town clerk for hours that they will be open on Aug. 15.

Absentee ballots for primary now available

Absentee ballots are available for the State Primary Election set for Tuesday, Sept. 4. Voters are reminded that the last day to apply for an absentee ballot for this election is 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31.

According to the state secretary of state’s office, residents requests for absentee ballots should be submitted well in advance of the election date. “All ballots being mailed from inside the United States must be received by your local election official no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

Ballot pickup in Northfield

NORTHFIELD — Absentee ballots for the state primary election are available at the town clerk’s office now through the end of August on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Thursdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The town clerk will hold special office hours Friday, Aug. 31, the last day to pick up an absentee ballot, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Direct questions can be directed to Town Clerk Dan Campbell at 413-498-2901, ext. 112.