Sen. Adam Hinds asked for and received $1 million more from the state’s Rural School Aid grant program this year, increasing the budget to $2.5 million and leaving superintendentsthroughout Franklin County waiting to see just how much of the pie they’ll get.
“The fight for equal opportunity through education means we need to ensure all of our schools receive the state support they need,” said Hinds, D-Pittsfield.
Hinds, who serves on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, has worked to build awareness and support for the needs of rural schools and the grant program that provides financial assistance to the state’s most rural schools, several of which are in Franklin County. The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low populations and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. The grant is administered by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It is a funding source separate from Chapter 70 aid and intended to supplement school aid.
School districts that qualify for Rural School Aid have fewer than 21 students per square mile in communities where the average per-capita income is not greater than the statewide income average. School districts with less than 11 students per square mile and incomes of no more than the state average per capita income qualify for the largest amount of aid.
School administrators decide how to use the funding to help them face fiscal challenges. Last year, several Franklin County districts benefited,like Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, which received $183,774; Mohawk Trail Regional School District, which received $132,932; and Pioneer Valley Regional School District, which received $92,593. Several other schools across the county received smaller amounts.