The Massachusetts Senate Thursday night unanimously passed an education reform bill that would invest a new $1.5 billion in the state’s public K-12 education system over the next seven years with a focus on providing resources that will help low-income students.
The bill aims to funnel additional money into the state’s public education system in a way that would boost every district without reliance on new or increased taxes to pay for the investment.
The Student Opportunity Act, which passed 39-0, “modernizes K-12 education funding” according to a statement from Senate President Karen E. Spilka’s office.
Specifically, the bill increases special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment, increases funding for English learners that is differentiated by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate older students, the statement said.
It also provides additional funding based on the share of low-income students in each district, and defines “low-income” as 185 percent of the federal poverty level, rather than the 133 percent level that has been used in recent years, according to Spilka’s office.
“With the passage of the Student Opportunity Act, the Senate is reaffirming its commitment to the idea that providing a quality public education is not a luxury—it is both our greatest responsibility and our greatest opportunity as a state,” said Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, in the statement.
State Senator Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat, said the bill’s passage “marks a bold step into the 21st century for our public schools of Massachusetts and for all future generations of students.”
Daniel McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this report.