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Gov. Charlie Baker Signs Bill With $1.5B in New School Spending

Legislative leaders say the new law will help schools that serve high numbers of low-income students

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a bill that would provide $1.5 billion in new spending on the state's K-12 education system when fully phased in over seven years.

Supporters of the measure say it will help ensure schools have the resources needed to provide high quality education for students across Massachusetts, regardless of zip code or income level.

Baker signed the bill Tuesday at The English High School of Boston, the first public high school in America, founded in 1821.

"Talent is evenly distributed, what's not evenly distributed is opportunity," Baker said after the bill signing.

Legislative leaders say the new law will help schools that serve high numbers of low-income students while also benefiting districts across the state with updates to the state's existing school funding formula.

The law also requires school districts to develop three-year plans to close student achievement gaps. The plans can use expanded learning time, increased counseling, expanded early learning and pre-kindergarten programs, early college and career readiness pathways, and a more diverse teacher workforce to help close those gaps.

"The future of Boston is right here in this auditorium. And we need to continue to make sure that we invest in our future," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Democratic Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka said the passage of the measure shows state leaders "are reaffirming our commitment to the idea that providing a quality public education is not a luxury — it is both our greatest responsibility and our greatest opportunity."

The Massachusetts House and Senate unanimously passed the legislation earlier this month.

The new law won applause from teacher unions and education advocates who has long lobbied for the changes.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy called the new law "a huge victory for students, for educators, for communities and for racial and economic justice."

"Much of that money will go to low-income districts, disproportionately communities of color, that have been left behind by our commonwealth's outdated and inequitable funding system," Najimy said in written statement.

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