Below you can find an email that was sent to the Lieutenant Governor’s office by Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad.
This can be used as guide in the event a person would like to lobby the state.
Good Morning Lieutenant Governor Driscoll:
On behalf of the Town of Groton, I want to express my sincere appreciation and thank you and Mr. Gallego for taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with me and Michael Sulprizio to discuss Local Aid and its impact on the Town of Groton and the Groton Dunstable Regional School District. The issue of Local Aid, and in particular Chapter 70 and Chapter 71 Aid, is a crucial issue to the financial well-being of the Town of Groton and our taxpayers. Spending time discussing this with you means a lot to us.
I wanted to follow-up and provide you with the information we went over during our meeting. Please consider the following:
- While we understand that Governor Healy will be proposing a Local Aid package that has the most Chapter 70 funding ever, the distribution of that funding is significantly disproportionate to School Districts like the Groton Dunstable Regional School District. Almost 93% ($544.8M) of all new Chapter 70 money that the Governor is proposing is going to 106 (or 33%) of the Districts in the Commonwealth. 212, or 67%, of all remaining Districts (including the Groton Dunstable Regional School District) in the Commonwealth are left with sharing only a total combined 7% ($41.5M) of all new Chapter 70 funding.
- We reviewed Governor Healy’s proposal and conducted a survey of Towns surrounding Groton and other similar Regional School Districts. The Groton Dunstable Regional School District is set to receive an increase of $68,490, (less than 0.50%) in School Aid, while the average increase of the Communities and Districts surveyed was 5.68%. If Groton Dunstable received the average increase, it would have received an increase of $635,884, instead of $68,490.
- In FY 2009, the Groton Dunstable Regional School District received $11,777,603 in net school aid (after charges, etc.) and in FY 2024, according to the Governor’s proposal, they will receive $11,235,497 in net aid, a reduction of $542,106 or 4.6% over the last fifteen years. Budget wise, the Operating Assessment for the Groton Dunstable Regional School District to the Town of Groton has gone from $13,807,468 in FY 2009 to a proposed $26,680,214 in FY 2024, an increase of $12,872,746, or 93.2%. The average yearly increase is $858,183 and it has been borne solely by the taxpayers of Groton. While the School Population has decreased by 417 students since 2009, inflation has increased by 39.45% since 2009. Even with less students, the cost to educate them has increased significantly. This does not warrant a drop in State Aid of $542,106.
- If Groton had received a modest increase of 2% per year since 2009 (similar to the allowable increase in the tax levy allowed by Proposition 2½), the Groton Dunstable Regional School District would be receiving well over $16 million in Chapter 70 Aid.
- When the Towns of Groton and Dunstable formed the Regional School District in the 1970’s, they were promised 100% reimbursement in Chapter 71 (Regional School Transportation) Aid. During my time as Town Manager in Groton (14 ½ years), the reimbursement rate has never exceeded 60%.
- As stated above, according to the Governor’s local aid proposal for FY 2024, the Groton Dunstable Regional School District’s Chapter 70 estimated increase is $68,490, however, the required minimum contributions from both Towns increased over $1.1 million. It is expected that the Town of Groton increase education spending by $798,158 and Dunstable to increase by $322,367. Based on estimated new revenues for the towns and new revenues from the state, that is grossly disproportionate.
- In developing the Town Manager’s Proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2024, we proposed the largest ever increase in local receipts in Groton’s History (over $1.8 million) and set aside over $1.2 million, or 65%, of new revenues to the Groton Dunstable Regional School District. Due to COVID related issues in learning, the District needs nearly $2 million more. The Town of Groton cannot sustain this kind of increase without the assistance of the Commonwealth.
- The taxpayers in Groton have already approved a Debt Exclusion Override to pay the debt service on a new $80 million elementary school. They are at their maximum ability to pay taxes and raising additional taxes to pay for needed school spending is not possible. Either the Commonwealth provides more consistent Chapter 70 Aid to the School District, or essential municipal services, such as Police, Fire and DPW, will need to be significantly reduced to support educating our children.
This is just a short list of concerns that the Town has relative to Chapter 70 Aid and School Spending. We are in desperate need of assistance from the Commonwealth. The increase in Chapter 70 Aid needs to be more proportionally distributed to all communities in the Commonwealth, not just the gateway cities and towns.
Lieutenant Governor, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to listen to our concerns. Your support is truly appreciated. The Town of Groton and I look forward to working with you and Governor Healy as we address this very important issue.