Tracy O'Connell Novick Profile picture
Apr 21, 2018 20 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Ok, I'm not convinced I have nailed down the best way of talking about this yet, but I think it's good to get some things out around #MAEdu regional schools transportation, especially as we see the #mabudget debate juggle it.
The principle is Massachusetts has some teeny districts and had more of them. There can be advantages (financial and otherwise) to teeny districts joining up.
That's where a whole bunch of MGL Ch. 71 comes in.
MGL Ch. 71 sec. 16C sets a 1 1/2 mile limit, but then says:
the "district shall be obliged to provide transportation for all school children in grades kindergarten through twelve...
"and the commonwealth shall reimburse such district to the full extent of the amounts expended for such transportation, subject to appropriation"
Note, of course, the closing phrase.
It means "if we have/set aside the money to pay for it."
And the state has not "to the full extent."

The districts remain bound by the first part, of course.
Now, the thing I think many who aren't in regionals maybe don't capture is the relative sizes we're talking here.

I'm going to stick with non-vo-techs, because some of the vo-techs feel like cheating.
Here are a few comparisons, using FY17 numbers.

Wachusett Regional is the largest regional by enrollment in the state, with 7100 students.

That makes its student population about the same as Chelsea's, with 7038 students.
The city of Chelsea is 2.5 square miles.

The Wachusett Regional School District is 155 square miles.

About the same number of kids coming over VASTLY different areas.
So for in-district transportation, Chelsea spent $2.5M in FY17.
Wachusett spent $4.7M.

Same number of kids. Almost twice as much on buses.
Quabbin Regional (to Wachusett's north here in central Mass) had 2200 kids.

That's about the same as Norwell, which had 2151 kids in FY17.
Quabbin Regional is 162.7 square miles.

Norwell is 21 square miles.
That's about the same as Quabbin Regional's smallest town in land mass, New Braintree, all by itself.
So Norwell (in district) spent $872K on transportation in FY17.

And Quabbin spent $1.5M.

For about the same number of kids.
We could do this for lots of them, but here's one more:

Wrentham had just under 1000 students in FY17, with 966 enrolled.

So did Mohawk Regional, with 938 enrolled.
Wrentham is 22.9 square miles.

Mohawk Regional is 253 square miles. about comparing apples and oranges...
Wrentham spent $699K on transportation.

Mohawk Regional spent $1.09M.
In fact, the only lines in Mohawk Trail's budget that are larger than transportation are teachers, paraprofessionals, and health insurance.
Add to that this issue across the state on lack of transportation bids:…
...and districts don't even have options.
I talk a lot #onhere about equity and serving all kids.

That means the kids in Oakham and Rowe as much as it does the kids in Chelsea and Worcester as much as it does the kids in Weston and Wellesley.
I don't have all the answers to the tiny population and vast amount of space in some parts of the state. But I do know those kids are guaranteed an education as much as mine are.
And if you're wondering why the regionals are rumbling about #FundtheBusMA, that's why. /fin

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More from @TracyNovick

Sep 12, 2018
Next up in #amreading: “White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America” by Margaret Hagerman.
(And yes, this one I bought. Usually, I am a devoted @CWMARSinfo user.)
Read 30 tweets
Aug 28, 2018
I mean, here's the thing on hot school buildings in New England:

A) we didn't build for this. We absolutely have not built schools that were intended to have classes running in them during weeks of 90 plus degree days until recently.
B) We didn't, because we didn't need to! We didn't HAVE classes running in buildings for multiple 90-plus degree days.
(Ergo, incidently, why A/C is in admin...they're there all summer.)
C) We do now, not only because climate change, but yeah, in part climate change (also the 180/900/990 requirements from the state PLUS caution around driving=tight scheduling timelines)
Read 13 tweets
Jul 31, 2018
“Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people,
“being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties;
“and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country,
Read 14 tweets
Jul 10, 2018
Okay, I just stuck the House foundation budget bill in my Dropbox here:…

thread following
#FBRC said in-district to 3.75% for regular; 4.75% for voke
House bill says in-district to 4%; 5% for voke

That's your sugar to help the medicine go down, because there is no other good news here.
Health insurance change DOES add retirees and ties to three years of GIC, so...sure.
Read 18 tweets
Jul 10, 2018
Okay, the House is going to take up a "foundation budget reform" bill, we're told.

For what should #MAEdu be watching?
Well, the first thing is, while we may pick it up, so far the House is being pretty careful about references to the Commission (which I'm echoing by not tagging them with #FBRC).
Where's the references to the Commission?
Three years out.
Work of more than a year.
Hours and hours of testimony.
Pages and pages of research.
Hours and hours of discussion.
Read 21 tweets
Jun 6, 2018
4 o’clock. Tea time. Time for some #FBRC myth busting.
The first objection I hear all the time to passing an #FBRC bill is:

"We don't have the money!"

The bill calls for a phased-in implementation done by annual meetings to agree among Gov-House-Senate on that year's implementation.
It's a commitment and it's a plan.
Read 27 tweets

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