Sen. Adam Hinds to host public forum on rural school fiscal woes

Sen. Adam Hinds to host public forum on rural school fiscal woes

SHELBURNE FALLS -- Massachusetts' rural school districts are caught in a spiraling fiscal crisis, according to a recent report. With rising fixed costs, dwindling state reimbursements and population flight, the districts are struggling.

State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will convene a public forum Monday at Mohawk Trail Regional High School to examine rural school funding issues and look for solutions.

Top leaders from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will provide an overview of their report, released to the Legislature in January. Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) and Sen. Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) plan to join Hinds at the Shelburne Falls event. Mohawk Trail Superintendent Michael Buoniconti will outline fiscal hardships facing rural school districts.

Declining enrollments are part of the problem.

"It becomes a diseconomy of scale," said state education secretary Wulfson last month. "You still need some basic services -- you need a principal, you need a school nurse, you need a geometry teacher. You're basically spreading those costs over fewer and fewer students."

Hinds said the conversation is timely because legislators are now preparing to deliberate fiscal 2019 state budget spending recommendations. Hinds, co-chairman of the Legislative Rural Caucus, said he plans to stream the March 12 event on Facebook Live.