MA Senate moves forward on the Worthington bill

BOSTON (WESTFIELD NEWS) – After months of deliberation and languishing in committee, the Massachusetts State Senate adopted an amendment to bill H.3815 last week regarding the Town of Worthington’s withdrawing from the Gateway Regional School District, and then engrossed the bill.

The amendments, brought forth by Senators Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and Don Humason, Jr. (R-Westfield), would allow the town of Worthington to unilaterally withdraw as a member of the Gateway Regional School District, provided that Mitchell D. Chester, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, approves the future education plans for the children of both Worthington and the remaining Gateway communities.

According to the amendment, Worthington and the rest of the district shall submit the plans to the commissioner within 60 days of the effective date of the act, giving Chester 60 days to issue a decision regarding said plans.

Under the amendments, the Town of Worthington must also pay the Gateway district operating and capital costs under section IX of the district’s agreement with Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, and Russell.

Worthington would also be obligated to pay any repayment amounts due to the Massachusetts School Building Authority under section IX of the agreement.

The town will be allowed to withdraw from the district after July 1 of the next fiscal year according to state law, and, upon written notification from the district that the town of Worthington is withdrawing from the district, the DESE will hold a reorganization needs conference to initiate a long range education plan to determine the overall impacts of the withdrawal, along with the impacts of the withdrawal on the district’s current and future enrollment, as well as an inventory of all educational facilities under the jurisdiction of the remaining communities in the district.

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