Education is one of Stan’s top priorities. It is his passion. Western Massachusetts is home to many public and private colleges, the University of Massachusetts flagship campus in Amherst, and many regional school districts whose needs are unique to the rural region. Stan has served at various times on the Education and Higher Education Committees and has been a champion for various education policy issues.
Public Higher Education
As Senate President, Stan was able to secure tuition retention for the UMass system, allowing the University to keep their own tuition dollars rather than the funds going into the state’s general fund and re-allocated back to the University. This puts UMass in line with the majority of the other public higher education systems in the country. This change will allow the University more predictability in managing tuition and fees for students moving forward.
Regional School Transportation Funding
Stan knows that trust in government is enhanced when it keeps its promises. So he has been a leader in fighting to get the state to keep its promise of 100% funding for regional school transportation. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in the mid 90’s, Stan passed a plan to incrementally restore full funding over a short number of years and nearly succeeded, reaching the highest level of funding in recent history. However, progress was interrupted by a recession and funding plummeted due to statewide budget cuts. Frustrated by this, Stan proposed and recently won an innovative piece of legislation that essentially blocks any deep cuts to regional school transportation during economic downturns. Under this new law, cuts cannot be any deeper than those to the Chapter 70 local aid account. Since Chapter 70 is rarely cut compared to transportation, it worked! During the most recent economic downturn, instead of the usual 50-70 percent overall cut to regional school transportation funding, there were very modest cuts offering great hope that we can approach or meet full funding of the account soon.
Education from Early Childhood to K-12
Stan is working to preserve and expand early care and education funding, including early intervention for at risk children. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Stan helped boost funding for early care and education, helping to expand access to this vital opportunity for many thousands of children. For elementary and secondary students he is seeking to secure increased funding for Chapter 70 by pushing for a multi-year commitment to boost state aid to public schools (a method that has been successful in the past) and pushing for more reliable funding to help children improve reading skills. He also consistently advocates for increased funding for the dual enrollment programs that helps advanced high school students begin their college education early by taking college courses as part of their high school plan.
As Senate President, Stan launched the Kids First Initiative, which aims to craft comprehensive policies that ensure that the Commonwealth’s children can grow up to be productive adults. “Kids First” will take a comprehensive and inter-disciplinary look at a wide variety of policy areas which relate to supporting children, such as education, nutrition, public health, housing, and workforce development. The first phase of the initiative will focus on early childhood development from pre-natal through the fourth grade.
The group of nine senators will be led by Senator DiDomenico, and will seek out input on best-in-the nation practices to support children, and will make budget and policy recommendations to support their findings.