Sen. Hinds to host rural schools forum at Mohawk

  • Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, March 09, 2018

SHELBURNE FALLS — On the heels of a state report detailing the financial struggles of rural school districts, state Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will hold a public forum at his alma mater, the Mohawk Trail Regional School, to discuss these fiscal challenges.

The forum takes place Monday, March 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Mohawk, 26 Ashfield Road (Route 112).

Besides Hinds, who co-chairs the Rural Legislative Caucus, other participants will include state Rep. Steve Kulik, Rural Legislative Caucus co-chair and vice-chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Jeffrey Wulfson, acting commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE); Rob O’Donnell, DESE director of school finance, and Mohawk/Hawlemont Superintendent Michael Buoniconti.

Hinds sponsored legislation that directed the education department to conduct a study — “Fiscal Conditions in Rural School Districts” — that might lead to changes in state aid for rural school districts. That report found rural schools spend 50 percent more per-pupil in transportation costs than other districts in the state. Also, as rural enrollment declines, the cost-per-pupil is rising, largely due to fixed costs.

Wulfson and O’Donnell will discuss recommendations and potential strategies to support rural school districts in the coming year.

Town officials, school superintendents, school committee members and the public are encouraged to attend. In addition, Falls Cable TV, the public access channel for Buckland and Shelburne, will tape and televise this forum.

Buoniconti, who also chairs the Massachusetts Rural Schools Coalition, will outline some of the fiscal hardships that rural schools face. State education department officials will talk about data, findings and recommendations from the report.

The DESE report, “Fiscal Conditions in Rural School Districts,” is available online, at: bit.ly/2oXGAPM