Mitchell Pushes for More State Funding for New Bedford Schools
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has taken issue with Governor Charlie Baker's latest recommendation for state aid to local schools.
The Governor recommended increasing Chapter 70 funding by just 2.6 percent, the lowest growth since education reform passed in 1993.
Mitchell met with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito on Tuesday, and called the increase to Chapter 70 funding "tepid."
In his weekly appearance on WBSM, Mitchell said New Bedford needs a greater fiscal committment from the state to improve education, because he can't ask the taxpayers to pay more.
"I need to continue to improve the school system, but at the same time, I've got to look out for taxpayers," Mitchell said. "I've got to look out for the financial stability of the city in the long run. We've done a good job with that, but it ain't easy."
Mitchell said the biggest problem comes with the mandated funding of charter schools, stating that the difference between what three charter schools costs the city and what it gets reimbursed from the state equals a gap of about $11 million this year.
The mayor called funding education "a two-headed monster," because of less money coming from the state while obligations for funding charter schools are increasing. He said the lack of funds hurts programs such as English Language Learning, extra-curricular activities and sports.
"We're going to continue to wring efficiency out of the operation of the school district, that's part of it," he said. "And I'm going to continue to advocate at the state level, as I did yesterday, for more state support."
Mitchell said New Bedford will meet the minimum spending requirement for education under state law, but feels the city won't be able to spend enough to meet the "reasonable needs of students" without extra financial support from the state.