AMESBURY — The city’s teachers union has joined a growing call for the state to fully fund its public education system.
Cindy Yetman is the president of the American Federation of Teachers Amesbury Local 1033 and has endorsed her union’s “Resolution in Support of Full Funding for Our Public Schools.”
“Teachers and students have been doing their part with testing and strict accountability for years,” Yetman said. “But the state hasn’t held up its end of the bargain.”
The resolution is part of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts’ Fund our Future campaign and makes the case that the state’s Chapter 70 education funding formula “has been woefully out of date for years, thereby underfunding our districts by more than $1 billion a year for essential educational services.”
The resolution calls for the state to update the Chapter 70 formula, which it said it would “bring Amesbury up to $515,650 in additional state aid each year.” Last year, Amesbury received $9.1 million in state aid.
Yetman had intended to present the resolution to the School Committee for its endorsement at its meeting Monday. But the meeting was postponed until March 18, when Yetman said she intends to have the resolution presented to the committee.
“We are simply asking them to support the Legislature,” Yetman said. “We have a good opportunity to make a difference and effect change.”
The Legislature studied the Chapter 70 formula but failed to pass any significant legislation relating to it last year.
“There are a couple of bills before the Legislature now, one in the House and one in the Senate,” Fund our Future campaign spokesman Stephen Crawford said.
He said the Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing March 22 to look at all the bills that have been proposed to address the Chapter 70 formula.
“This is a very early date to be doing such, so we believe there is a momentum in the Statehouse to finally act on this,” Crawford added. “The goal is to get this money committed by the state so that local communities who are planning for the next academic year can know what they can count on.”
Yetman has also enlisted the support of state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, in her cause.
Kelcourse said he will “absolutely” be on hand to support the resolution during the School Committee’s March 18 meeting.
“I support increasing the amount of funding for our schools,” Kelcourse said. “That is a top priority for me. The AFT is lucky to have Cindy Yetman and I will be there.”
A former Amesbury High School photography and business teacher, Yetman retired from the job in 2016 and said the state needs to keep up with the times.
“In 1993, my classroom was completely different than it was when I retired in 2016,” Yetman said. “But this (Chapter 70) formula has remained the same since 1993. It is time for a change.”
Amesbury is struggling with unfunded mandates “just like every other community,” according to Yetman.
“Special education and transportation costs are always increasing,” Yetman said. “The state should do its part. With all of the mandates that are coming down, we need the funding to do the right thing and do a good job.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.