More than 20 parents of schoolchildren delivered nearly 1,700 letters to Governor Charlie Baker’s office on Monday, asking for what the group called a more equitable school funding formula.
The letters were handwritten by parents, grandparents, and community members from across the state on behalf of the nonprofit Stand for Children Massachusetts, asking Baker to invest in creating equal footing for wealthy and underserved school districts.
“To help these children and the Gateway Cities and rural communities where they live to succeed, we need to pass legislation this year that allows more spending to alleviate overcrowding, cover increasing costs and provide funds to dramatically boost early literacy and help students remain on track and graduate,” a statement from the organization read.
The nonprofit advocacy organization is asking Baker to prioritize fair school funding by updating the funding formula for public schools, which it says hasn’t been changed in 25 years. They group also called for the governor to talk about school funding in his State of the State Address and the upcoming budget.
“Now is the time to act and we’re hoping that Governor Baker leads the House and the Senate in paving the way for students,” said Brianna Aloisio, policy and government affairs manager for the advocacy nonprofit. “Far too many students have been left behind, and this is the time to close the opportunity gap.”
According to the organization, 65 percent of low-income students in Massachusetts are not at a proficient reading level by third grade.
In a statement, the Baker administration said it had “signed more than half a billion dollars in additional investments for local schools since coming into office, bringing total funding for K-12 education close to $5 billion, the highest funding level in state history.”
Education Secretary James Peyser passed behind the group near Baker’s office as he made his way to a budget meeting.
“We’re in the middle of budget season,” Peyser told reporters, according to State House News Service. “We’re obviously looking at everything and trying to do the best we can.”