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Friedman votes to support education for students displaced by natural disasters

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Sen. Cindy Friedman joined her colleagues in passing a supplemental budget that includes $15 million for school districts educating students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who were displaced by hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Since last September, more than 2,300 students have arrived in Massachusetts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and enrolled in schools across the state. The formula that calculates state aid to local schools, however, was established prior to the students’ arrival, so school districts have not received extra money to cover the costs of educating these students.

Before unanimously approving the spending bill, senators added an amendment to the bill requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to report how it distributes the money to schools.

Asked how the legislation affects Arlington funding, Kristina Gaffny, representing Friedman, wrote Feb. 6: "The Department of Elementary & Secondary Education is still working to fine-tune the numbers, so we are not aware of how much money each school district will get just yet."

Friedman said in a Feb. 5 news release: "As we continue to welcome new students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is important that we provide adequate support for our school districts so that they have the resources they need to manage the sudden rise of students in the classroom while continuing to provide high quality education for everyone."

The supplemental budget also contains an additional $250,000 in funding for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination following a recent spike in sexual-harassment complaints as well as $200,000 in funding for the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative to support municipal land-use training.

"These additional funds will allow us to more effectively address ongoing issues impacting the Commonwealth," Friedman said.

The vote by the Arlington Democrat on this issue was cast Feb. 1.

Friedman represents the 4th Middlesex district, which includes Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn and precincts 1-2 and 4-7 in Lexington. 

This news announcement was published Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

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