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Massachusetts lawmakers consider additional funding for rural schools

Massachusetts Statehouse.
Elizabeth Román
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NEPM
Massachusetts Statehouse.

Massachusetts lawmakers held a hearing Monday on a bill that would increase funding for rural schools.

The bill would implement the findings of a state commission on rural schools by providing $60 million to them and increasing funding for expenses like transportation.

Sophia Stone, a fourth grader in the Gateway Regional School District, speaks during a Massachusetts hearing on funding for rural schools.
Screenshot
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Massachusetts Legislature
Sophia Stone, a fourth grader in the Gateway Regional School District, speaks during a Massachusetts hearing on funding for rural schools.

Alexis Batra, a Spanish teacher at Gateway Regional High School in Huntington, told legislators the need is urgent.

"We are losing students who believe that school is a waste of time and they check out or they rebel," she said. "They don't see a place for themselves in a system that can't offer them the programs to gain the skills and training they want and need."

Sophia Stone is a fourth grader in the same school system.

"Where I live should not impact my access to quality learning and opportunities in my classrooms. Students in the Hilltowns are just as important as every student in the state," she said.

The state budget now under consideration would provide $15 million for rural schools, a quarter of what the bill's proponents are seeking.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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