Long-awaited education funding bill unveiled

Calls for 'unprecedented' $1.4 billion boost in state aid, much of it to poorer communities

FOUR YEARS AFTER a state commission declared that the Massachusetts education funding formula was shortchanging school districts by $1 to $2 billion, state lawmakers unveiled an ambitious proposal that would increase state aid to local schools by $1.4 billion. The bill goes a long way toward meeting the calls of education advocates and district leaders

Lawrence eliminates fares on 3 bus routes

Once fanciful idea of free service picks up steam

IN A BID TO BOOST public transit ridership, Lawrence on Monday started allowing residents to ride three downtown bus routes for free. The city is providing $225,000 to the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority to offset the fare losses from the bus routes for the next two years. The routes – 34, 37, and 85

Mayors of Salem, Holyoke call for carbon fee

70% of revenue would go back to homeowners, businesses

WE ARE THE MAYORS of Salem and Holyoke, two medium-sized Gateway Cities. Our communities are more than 100 miles apart, but both are feeling the impacts of climate change. We are experiencing severe storms, unpredictable flooding, drought, and damage to homes, businesses, roads, and infrastructure.  Climate change is disrupting city operations and straining budgets. In

Alex Morse wants to change how Washington works

Holyoke mayor says Richie Neal wields power, but for whom?

ALEX MORSE, the 30-year-old mayor of Holyoke, may look like he’s on a fool’s errand by challenging Rep. Richard Neal in next year’s Democratic primary. After all, just seven months ago Neal’s three decades of toil in the DC vineyards landed him in one of the most powerful positions in the House, chairman of the tax

T has extra $1.2b: How would you spend it?

Agency is holding off, saying it lacks organizational capacity

IT HASN’T RECEIVED a lot of attention, but the MBTA has an extra $1.2 billion in untapped capital funds at its disposal. The agency’s five-year capital spending plan has $9.4 billion in funding sources but only $8.2 billion in planned spending. T General Manager Steve Poftak said in May that he would like to spend

Special fare for low-income T riders gains momentum

Some control board members back more commuter rail discounts

MBTA GENERAL MANAGER Steve Poftak said on Monday that the agency intends to research how to implement a special, less expensive fare for low-income people, but he said the scope and parameters of the study need to be worked out. “The intent is to study it. It’s just a question of the depth of the

Keeping politics in check

Sportsmanship trumps partisanship at chess tourney

I’M AT CARRIE NATION, a prohibition-era themed Beacon Hill bar just down the street from the Massachusetts State House. On an island of tables floating between a legislative fundraiser in the front room and a bar full of power drinks after work, there are eight chess games underway. The room is noisy with friendly conversation

What’s in your electricity bill?

There’s a lot more than just the cost of power

It’s a simple question – what charges are contained in your electricity bill?  But the answer isn’t that simple. Indeed, there’s a lot more going on with your bill than you might think. In CommonWealth’s latest Reel Deal explainer video, we show how your electricity bill has become a major driver of state energy policy.

The healing power of art

Therapists who use creative outlets to help patients process trauma seek licensure

THE YOUNG GIRL had endured bullying and been called ugly. She was told she had a unibrow by one of her male classmates. At her therapist’s office, she was “withdrawn and disengaged.” She refused to finish a self-portrait she had started the previous week, instead picking up another piece of paper and painting two eyes

Local accountability in schools lacking, says report

Study urges stronger goal-setting by districts and schools

MASSACHUSETTS HAS BUILT its school reform effort on a combination of new state funding and accountability measures that track student and district achievement, but that has largely let local districts off the hook for setting ambitious goals of their own and holding themselves and schools responsible for meeting them. That’s the conclusion of a new

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