The Gateway Cities Journal
News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities


Eye on Early Ed in State Budget


Fiscal year 2015 is set to begin on July 1. Right now, a six-member conference committee of legislators is wrapping up negotiations on the differences between House and Senate versions of the budget. As advocates for high-quality early education opportunities for young children in Massachusetts, we at Strategies for Children have been closely monitoring all FY15 proposals. Our analysis shows that there is roughly $32 million at stake for early education and care in the conference committee budget.


There are several early education budget proposals that differ in the House and Senate budgets. For the most part, the Senate provides more funding for early education, including $17.5 million to reduce the Department of Early Education and Care's subsidy waiting list for income-eligible families. As of May, more than 24,000 young children (birth - 5) were on that waiting list, many of whom live in Gateway Cities. The Senate budget also includes a critical $9.7 million for early educator salaries, benefits, and professional development, and a new $1 million initiative to expand pre-k in communities with level 5 districts and schools. Gateway Cities would benefit from all of these proposals.


The House budget provides higher funding levels than the Senate for a few key line items, including early education subsidies for children and families receiving TANF benefits, Universal Pre-Kindergarten grants to support current high-quality preschool programs, and Kindergarten Quality grants to support full-day kindergarten support staff, curriculum, and professional development.


As Gateway City leaders, practitioners, and community members may know, Massachusetts has a significant achievement gap that starts in the earliest years of life and often leaves many children from low-income families and communities unprepared for success in school. The FY15 budget can address this gap by providing the maximum amount of funding for early education and care programs and services. After all, $32 million is less than 0.1 percent of the overall $36 billion-plus state budget that the conference committee will propose. Research demonstrates the lasting short- and long-term positive impact of high-quality early education-on everything from reduced grade retention and special needs placements to improved school readiness, high school graduation, college attendance, adult earnings and health. Clearly, early education is one investment that the commonwealth can't afford not to make.


- Amy O'Leary, Campaign Director, Strategies for Children





The Patriot Ledger editorializes in favor of a transparent Transformative Development Fund.


Fitchburg Economic Development Director Jerry Beck reflects on the City Council's recent decision to cut funding for the economic development director position.


Robert Mellion of the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry makes a case for the passage of Gateway City legislation in the Herald News.


Springfield was awarded a $1.29 million federal grant to fund the construction of a workforce development center.


Lawrence non-profits received just under $30,000 of the $200,000 grant total from Governor Deval Patrick's Housing Week Initiative, which awards money to housing non-profits.


In Pittsfield, the historic Howard Building has been renovated into high end retail and residential housing units.


Single-family homes will no longer be included in the Watuppa low income housing proposal in Fall River, even though they had been previously approved by the state.


Visitors of Fitchburg will soon be welcomed by four new billboards that broadcast local attractions as a part of the Fitchburg Gateway Project.




The economic development bill the House passed last week includes $750,000 for early college high schools, a key component of the Gateway Cities Education Vision.


At the Worcester Technical High School Graduation, President Obama commended the school for setting a national example for vocational and technical education. Mayor Joseph Petty and Congressman James McGovern expressed wonder and gratitude about the day's events, the Worcester Telegram reports.


Revere Public Schools look to gain an edge in early education by revamping the technology used by students in the classroom.


The Pittsfield City Council approved the school's $56 million operating budget for the upcoming school year - a $1 million increase from the previous year.


A recent statistical profile of the city of Pittsfield carried out by the Gaston Institute at UMass Boston highlights the education and economic challenges the local Latino community is currently facing.


The Global Learning Public Charter School in New Bedford is receiving a portion of a $250,000 science/biotech grant shared by 12 schools.


Fall River is extending the free lunch program to eligible students through the summer.


Hannigan School in New Bedford is providing enriching sustainability education to grade school students and families on the weekends through the GROW education program.


The Westfield School Department brainstorms solutions for the near empty buses traveling to and from high schools throughout the school year.




The MassDOT board approved a contract for the South Coast Rail project of up to $210 million.


A study is set to be carried out by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on improvement plans for the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge.


Governor Deval Patrick, Former Congressman John Olver, and officials from the city and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for Phase II of the Holyoke Canal Walk.


A Pittsfield company gets a $70 million contract to provide precast concrete deck panels on the new Tappan Zee Bridge.




The City of Malden passed an amendment to increase the smoking age to 21. 


In Methuen, a group is being assembled by the Mayor to make recommendations on the zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries.


The Pittsfield Community Development board approved The Greeneway Wellness marijuana dispensary.




The Chicopee Boys & Girls Club is set to unveil their recent renovations funded in part by the federal Community Development Block Grant.




Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse throws his support behind Attorney General Martha Coakley's gubernatorial campaign. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is going with State Treasurer Steve Grossman.




Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter seeks revenue-raising alternatives to tax hikes by asking major local non-profits to pay their part.




The Globe reports that a co-owner of the Everett site of a proposed casino is now willing to sign a pledge stating he has no secret partners, a move the state gambling commission has said was imperative in the wake of questions about whether people with criminal backgrounds might have a secret stake in the 30-acre parcel.


Mohegan Sun made an offer to Saugus of $850,000 to cover the impact of the proposed Revere casino on the community.



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