Photo: Gov. Charlie Baker.
It appeared, at first glance, newly-installed Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker would be providing Belmont a little bit extra in the town’s coffers when he announced his $38.1 billion preliminary budget proposal for fiscal 2016 two weeks ago.
But while Baker gave in state aid with one hand, the other hand grabbed back an important funding source used by Belmont’s schools.
According to Town Administrator David Kale, Belmont would be set to receive $8,941,904 in total state aid, a $386,000 increase compared to fiscal 2015.
The jump in funding is part of Baker’s earlier pledge to increase unrestricted local aid by 3.6 percent to $980 million, and state payments to local education (known as Chapter 70) by $105.3 million or a minimum of nearly $20 per pupil.
Belmont’s share of Chapter 70 funds increases by approximately $280,000 from last year, for a total of $6,757,056 in fiscal 2016 with general government funding increasing to $2.1 million.
Yet the slight improvement in Belmont’s local aid as tampered by Baker’s suggested elimination of the Quality Full-Day Kindergarten Grant program, a program promoted by former Gov. Deval Patrick.
Belmont receives approximately $165,000 annually to expand its full-day kindergarten program. The ending of the grant could result in higher fees for kindergarten parents, Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan told residents at a precinct meeting at the Beech Street Center on Friday, March 20.
With kindergarten funding taken out, the state aid in fiscal 2016 will have only increased by just under $222,000, said Kale.
The amounts used are from Baker’s proposed budget. It will be used as a benchmark by the state House and Senate which will proposed their own budget blueprints. Those plans will then be sent to a joint committee to resolve any differences before being sent to Baker’s desk for his signature.