House, Senate Seek To Preserve Funding For Towns Educating Base Students

The Massachusetts Senate has joined with the House in rejecting a budget amendment made by Governor Deval L. Patrick that would impact future Bourne school district budgets. The governor’s amendment recommended the elimination of $1.3 million in funding to Bay State towns, such as Bourne, that educate students from military families.

The Senate on July 17 voted to override the governor’s amendment. The House rejected the amendment on Wednesday.

On July 11, the governor signed the proposed $36.5 billion budget for the new fiscal year, which includes $1.3 million to school districts that educate students from Massachusetts military families. That funding is safe for the coming school year, but the governor’s recommendation would be for the money to not automatically renew each year. An average of 130 students from families stationed at Joint Base Cape Cod are educated in the Bourne Public Schools.

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“I do not object to funding this program in the fiscal year 2015 budget, but I believe it is bad policy to codify this promise indefinitely,” the governor said in a letter to members of the House and Senate.

The state’s Education Reserve Account was set up about 10 years ago. Annual state aid from the so-called “pothole account” has fluctuated from $712,000 three years ago to $904,000 two years ago. The exact amount the town will receive from the state for the coming school year will not be known until sometime in September.

Gov. Patrick now has 10 days to veto the House and Senate votes. That would pave the way for a necessary two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House to override the governor’s veto. If the 10-day period passes without the governor signing a veto, the $1.3 million will remain as part of the new budget.

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