Josh Amaral for School Committee

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Fighting for School Funding Reform
      Testifying at the State House before the Joint Committee on Education on July 25, 2017.

      Testifying at the State House before the Joint Committee on Education on July 25, 2017.

One of the most effective ways to make an impact as a School Committee member is through advocacy. State and federal officials are often very interested in hearing from those most familiar with the impacts of their policy choices, and our state legislators are especially receptive to School Committee members. Many of them were School Committee members themselves, or have served in another municipal government role where they gained an understanding of the work SCs do. Organizations like the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) have strived to unite committee members across the state to amplify their advocacy for solutions that work for public schools. It was in my role as vice-chair of MASC's Urban Division that I was invited to provide my testimony at the State House on Tuesday at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Alice Peisch.

The purpose of my testimony was to explain how New Bedford is impacted by a flawed system the state uses to distribute education funding. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Review Commission released a report that estimated the state is underfunding education by 1-2 billion dollars. While this gap is spread throughout the Commonwealth, the impacts of underfunding are especially drastic in communities like New Bedford and other similar cities, where gaps in funding are not easily made up by the local tax base. Our School Committee has been wise to make investments and provide resources whenever possible, but our schools are still very much underresourced. If Sen. Chang-Diaz's bill, S. 223, passes, the state would begin planning to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and in time New Bedford would receive the resources our students need and deserve. The Boston Herald has an article on the hearing here.

Check out my full written testimony to the Joint Committee below (or here), and help out by contacting your local legislators to advocate for the implementation of the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations.

As I said on Tuesday, New Bedford's students can't afford to wait.

Thank you,

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My Testimony

 

 

Josh Amaral
Off and running..
    Dropping off nomination papers Wednesday afternoon

    Dropping off nomination papers Wednesday afternoon

I have a vivid memory from the first School Committee meeting I attended after taking office in January of 2014. As I walked out of the Keith Community Room with a group of people, I joked "1 down, 47 to go." The School Committee meets at least once a month, and a member's term is four years, so the commitment is about 48 regular monthly meetings (plus more than a handful of special meetings, subcommittees, and budget sessions). That seemed like a lot of meetings and a lot of months, which was great for me because I was so excited to be there and knew I'd enjoy the journey. 

Well, here we are, 42 months later, and the term that once seemed endless is nearing its end. I'm just as excited to be there as I was at my first meeting four years ago. I truly enjoy the work, and the opportunity to serve the city and the best interests of our students is an awesome honor. If there is a difference from four years ago, it's that I'm a way better School Committee member now. The learning curve for School Committee members is a steep one. Developing a strong base of knowledge in school policy and law, budget, personnel, facilities, transportation, is no easy task. Nor is building relationships with school and city leaders or creating a network of contacts throughout the city and state to stay informed on important issues. I've done that, and I'd like to continue to put it all to good use in service of our schools.

So with that in mind, we'll mount a strong campaign for re-election. We're getting the band back together. And we're already off and running.

  • We held our first fundraiser in April (where many of you signed up to receive this newsletter in your e-mail. If you haven't, sign up here!)
  • We put together this great new campaign website, joshamaral.com, complete with detailed stances on important issues, videos, pictures, everything. Check it out. Let me know what you think.
  • We've ordered some printed materials and have more to come. Campaign signs will be out soon. Let me know if you'll support the campaign by putting one in your yard! Either e-mail me or sign up here.
  • We've really tried to increase our Facebook presence and have added over 100 likes in the past week. Please like it if you haven't, share our posts, and invite your friends. This is the best way to get up-to-the-minute information about the schools and the campaign. 
  • Shown in the picture above, I submitted all the signatures we gathered to secure a place on the ballot this fall. We're in!

Stay tuned! There will be more to come. And as always, thank you for your support.

Your friend,

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Josh Amaral