en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Malden state delegation briefs City Council on school funding strategies

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Councillors forecast rocky road ahead with potential consequences if changes to funding formula do not materialize


By Steve Freker


It was easy to ascertain the importance of the issue as the entire Malden state delegation was in the chamber for the discussion on how much funding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is going to provide to educate this city’s students – both in real time and in the future. Each member of the delegation – state Sen. Jason Lewis (D-5th Middlesex) and Reps. Steve Ultrino (D-Malden), Paul Donato (D-Malden, Medford) and Kate Lipper-Garabedian (D-Malden, Melrose) – pledged to continue to fight for Malden on Beacon Hill and explore every avenue to try and assist the city in finding more funding; the forecast was neither clear nor particularly encouraging. The bottom line is that a key facet of the state school funding formula, Chapter 70, will be rising each year by a just about guaranteed $3 million of mandated city contribution to the total “bill” to educate Malden’s nearly 7,000 public school students.

This line item in the Chapter 70 formula is the “Required Local Contribution” figure. Each year since the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) has been in effect, it has risen approximately $3 million. For example, it was $47.8M in FY22, $51.$M in FY 23, $54.4M in FY 24 and this year, FY25, $57.6M.

The “Foundation Budget” for FY24 was $117.6M and is $121.4M for FY25. The difference between the two line items is what Chapter 70 is providing, in this case, $63.1M in FY24 and this year, $63.8M in FY25. This represents only a roughly $700,000 increase. With a school budget increase expected this year due to new staff contracts, city officials as early as this past September have been predicting an especially challenging municipal budget and school budget season this year.

Malden Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley did not mince words during Tuesday’s meeting following a detailed presentation led by Sen. Lewis and Reps. Ultrino and Donato. “That $3 million a year will ruin our community,” Councillor O’Malley said. “Once we go through our reserves there are going to be [personnel] layoffs, maybe furloughs.

“We really want to resolve this at the state level,” O’Malley continued. “What can we do at the local level? A Proposition 2 1/2 override? Just because we can’t balance our checkbook? No one is going to go for that.

Malden is far from alone in this financial imbroglio, the state delegation explained, and they said they working daily on any type of assistance they may be able to tap into. “There is no silver bullet here. There is no simple answer,” Sen. Lewis told the Councillors. “Increasing the schools’ funding level will require state aid, in addition to working on solutions at the local level. It’s going to take multiple strategies.”

Rep. Ultrino said a potential solution is not simply “changing the Chapter 70 formula.” “Tweaking the formula will affect all of the communities in the Commonwealth, and maybe a change will help Malden, Medford and Melrose, for example. But will it help rural communities and those on the seacoast?

As for why some seemingly similar communities to Malden, like Everett, get more Chapter 70 money – “Then there are comparisons that are not accurate, for instance Malden and Everett. You don’t know all the information on their students, their tax rates. They have more students and families at the poverty level and their property values, overall, do not equal Malden’s.”

Ultrino said more information would be forthcoming when the state budget is finalized over the next several weeks.

Next Week: Some specific strategies that will be pursued at the state level to address Malden’s financial dilemma

Contact Advocate Newspapers