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Report: Soaring Health Costs Devour Mass. Education Budgets

A new report from the Boston Foundation says soaring health care costs have devoured education budgets across the state.

The Education Reform Act of 1993 was meant to provide equitable state funding. However, rising health care costs have forced low-income districts to cut back on books and teachers, while wealthier districts have been able to make up the difference.

The state's former Education Commissioner, David Driscoll, says the result is an unfair system.

"The lack of money caused by health care is in fact contributing to the achievement gap," Driscoll said.

The report, titled "School Funding Reality: A Bargain Not Kept," found that from 2000 to 2007, health care costs in school budgets grew by $1 billion. That’s $300 million more than the increase in state aid.

During that time, district spending on books dropped more than 50 percent and teacher training fell by almost 25 percent.

Responding to the report, Education Secretary Paul Reville said Gov. Deval Patrick wants to work on solutions.

"This is a top priority of his," Reville said, "he's eager to come to the table with all the parties that are part of this and put together a coalition to do something."

-- Here's the Boston Foundation report (on Scribd):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/44984188/Boston-Foundation-Report-School-Finance

This program aired on December 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Monica Brady-Myerov Twitter Reporter
Monica Brady-Myerov was formerly a report in WBUR's newsroom.

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