MILTON, JUNE 9, 2020 - I have recently heard from many in the Randolph Public Schools (RPS) community concerned about possible school budget cuts and changes in state aid. Everyone I’ve heard from wants to ensure that future students have the same opportunities that those before them enjoyed, if not even more robust offerings next year and beyond. I too share concerns about a school year without PE as well as art and music and the impact it would have on our students.
The pandemic and the resulting economic disruption to education in Randolph and across Massachusetts is tougher to reconcile because it was earlier in this legislative session that we passed a new law which included sweeping reforms intended to bring Randolph an increase in aid in the range of an additional eight million dollars above benchmark over the next five years. The current economic picture makes it completely unclear when those additional funding streams will be able to be implemented as intended.
So where are things currently?
As a reference, here are a couple of articles providing an overview of the current Randolph Public Schools situation in the Randolph Herald and Boston Globe.
From a state perspective, the economic uncertainty has impacted the state’s annual budget process dramatically. In short, we are at a virtual standstill and bracing for impact regarding the revenue shortfall.
Under normal circumstances, the Legislature would have a better grasp on what the state's FY21 budget would realistically look like by May. However, the pandemic put a pause on many aspects of life (including revenue collection), so we are dealing with a much slower budgeting process. Unfortunately, this means we are preparing for a FY21 budget with less money than expected due to unemployment and a slower economy. The loss is projected to be in the five to seven-billion-dollar range.
As of today, the state's House of Representatives has not voted on any budgetary proposals to cut aid for school districts. Also, I am keeping apprised of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's guidance for local school districts regarding what a physical return to school buildings may look like in the fall.
Conversations are ongoing about how to best deal with the reality of lost revenue and a cut to local aid that may be as high as twenty percent. But I assure you that throughout these conversations at the state level, I will communicate the financial local aid needs of Randolph to my colleagues and I will make it a priority to engage with RPS as the budget process progresses for FY21.