When he unveils his state budget next week, the head of the state's largest teachers union is looking for Gov. Charlie Baker to commit to a multi-year program that will lead to the investment of $1.5 billion in K-12 and public higher education.
"We won't settle for anything less than a minimum of $1.5 billion, because that's what it's going to take," Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy told State House News Service, citing heavy attendance at school funding forums, an "outcry" for more school aid and momentum building behind House and Senate education funding bills.
Najimy said the Fund Our Future coalition behind the legislation calling for multi-year investments in education has rounded up 15,000 signatures since November in support of the effort and is launching an online effort to gather more supporters.
She said there's widespread support for more nurses and librarians in the schools, smaller class sizes, mental health services in schools, more full-time faculty in higher education and debt-free college.
While the coalition has not proposed a funding source to facilitate the big investment, Najimy said she believes Beacon Hill leaders this year will commit to addressing education accounts that analysts say have not kept pace with rising costs.
"I am feeling 100 percent confident," Najimy said. "This is the central issue of the year."