For Immediate Release - August 27, 2010

GOVERNOR PATRICK CELEBRATES WEEK OF HISTORIC EDUCATION VICTORIES WITH SPRINGFIELD SCHOOLS

Visit follows Massachusetts securing more than $450 million in federal funds to improve public education; Governor allocates an additional $5.26 million for Springfield schools

Governor Deval Patrick joins 4,000 Springfield students, teachers, principals and families at their annual summer convocation in preparation for the new school year.

Governor Deval Patrick joins 4,000 Springfield students, teachers, principals and families at their annual summer convocation in preparation for the new school year. (Photo credit: Matt Bennett/Governor's Office)

SPRINGFIELD - Friday, August 27, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick today celebrated a week of significant education victories for Massachusetts with 4,000 Springfield students, teachers, principals and families at their annual summer convocation in preparation for the new school year.

The Governor's visit followed Tuesday's announcement by the U.S. Department of Education that Massachusetts achieved the highest score in the national Race to the Top competition, securing $250 million in funds to implement landmark education reforms. On Wednesday, Governor Patrick allocated $204 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund to school districts across the state, bringing state support for public education to historic levels. Springfield schools will receive an additional $5.26 million in the upcoming academic year in order to save an estimated 102 teaching positions.

"This has been a momentous week for our students, our teachers and our future," said Governor Patrick. "More than $450 million in federal funds will combine with significant state support for public education to lift up all of our children and finally close the achievement gap. Students and teachers here in Springfield and in communities across the Commonwealth are about to embark on a school year that will be marked by historic reforms and high standards. I wish you all success, and will be standing with you to ensure that every student receives the quality education they deserve."

"The Governor and I have made it clear from day one that it is a top priority of our administration to build an education system that meets the needs of all students and propels them to higher academic achievement," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "We have set high goals for our students and are committed to providing increased support to teachers and schools."

Governor Patrick learned on Tuesday that Massachusetts earned the highest score in the nation for the state's Phase 2 Race to the Top proposal and the maximum award of $250 million. The funds will be utilized to build a statewide data system that will allow for better use of student test information to drive improvements in instruction and evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness and to increase the state's efforts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to provide more training for teachers and more opportunities for students, among many other initiatives.

On Wednesday, Governor Patrick announced that he allocated $204 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund to school districts across the Commonwealth, bringing state support for public schools to its highest level in history. A combination of state and federal dollars totaling $4.07 billion will ensure all school districts receive more state aid - at least $25 per student - than they did last year. The new funding will support an estimated 2,700 teaching positions.

The Springfield Public Schools is one of 275 school districts across the state that agreed to participate in the Race to the Top program and will work to adopt many of the policies outlined in the Massachusetts proposal. Springfield and the other school districts are currently working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to build their local adoption plan for Race to the Top.

Additionally, with the Governor's announced allocation of Education Jobs Funds, Springfield will see an increase of $25 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2011, bringing their total state budget to over $273 million. The Governor's direction of Education Jobs Funds to Springfield combined with support through the Chapter 70 state education budget and existing federal stimulus dollars will allow Springfield to fund an additional 102 teaching positions this year.

Springfield Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alan J. Ingram said the announcements, made within two days of each other, made this a "great week" for Springfield. "The fact that Springfield is getting these substantial resources means that we will not only have better leverage for programs already underway that address student achievement, but we will now be able to expand on other strategies that will help us improve our school system for all students. It's a great lead in to the 2010 school year."

The combination of state and federal funding for public education in Springfield was recently bolstered when the Governor and ESE announced that Springfield will receive an additional $2.26 million in School Turnaround Grants to help their planning and implementing of new education reform strategies at the M. Marcus Kiley Middle School.

"We are on the move in Massachusetts and poised to improve on our already high achievement," said Education Secretary Paul Reville, who joined the Governor at the convocation. "We have made decisions based on what we know is best for students and will continue our efforts to support teachers and families in their work to improve education for our students."