Northeast Metro Tech Seeks Legislative Support in Prioritizing ARPA Funding

With the State Legislature considering allocating the $5 billion that remains of federal funds delivered to the Commonwealth under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Northeast Metro Tech is renewing its request that $100 million be allocated to ease the financial burden on member communities related its recently-approved building project.

Northeast Superintendent David DiBarri and School Board Chair Deb Davis reached out to state legislators to garner their support for using federal funding to limit the fiscal impact of Northeast’s building project on its sending communities. Their letter also advocated for the provision of ARPA funding for similar projects being undertaken by Bristol-Plymouth Technical School in Taunton and Greater Fall River Technical School District in Fall River.

“In round one of the ARPA allocations, state officials failed to provide any funds to limit project costs,” DiBarri said. “We strongly believe that easing the financial impact of these facilities on our communities and taxpayers — especially those that stand to bear the majority of the cost — should be a top priority for legislators in this round of funding, especially after this key need was not addressed in the first round of ARPA funding.”

In round one of ARPA funding, the State Legislature supported over 2,700 earmarks including the following to affluent suburbs: $75,000 to maintain and expand membership in a chamber of commerce, $150,000 for heating and ventilation repairs for a church, and over $250,000 to design a skating rink.

“These federal outlays are supposed to be prioritized for our most fiscally challenged communities and residents,” School Committee Chair Deb Davis said. “We have joined with two of our sister regional vocational and technical school districts located in Fall River and Taunton in seeking a fair share of resources to minimize significant projected property tax impacts in Gateway Cities, which their mayors and city managers also support.”

In the case of Northeast, the ARPA funding would ease the burden placed on Chelsea, Malden and Revere, which combine to send approximately half of all Northeast students. As a result, those three communities would bear almost half of the $176 million of the local share of the cost for the project, with the remaining local cost being shared by the nine other sending communities. A grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority of $141 million will lessen the $317 million in total project costs to $176 million to member communities.

The new Northeast Metropolitan school building will pave the way for the next 50-plus years of high-quality career and technical education for the students in the 12 cities and towns Northeast serves.

“We are committed to advocating for our partner communities to ensure they are supported through this one-time federal program, which would better enable them to fulfill their fiscal responsibilities to this project without making sacrifices to any other crucial services they provide,” Superintendent DiBarri said. “This funding is essential for our Gateway Cities, for our students, and for the future economic wellbeing of not only our communities but the Commonwealth as a whole.”

The economic impact of well-trained technicians, craft persons, and licensed tradesmen and women pays dividends to ensure economic wellbeing for students, residents and communities. As a one-time revenue source from the federal government, it makes wise use of these dollars for a one-time investment that will enable our fiscally challenged communities from dismantling critical local services from local budgets on projects under construction, reducing significant future debt service costs to communities.

Northeast is advocating for Bristol-Plymouth Technical School in Taunton and the Greater Fall River Technical School District in Fall River, to collectively receive $300 million in ARPA funding for their respective projects.

“This project and others like it will have a transformative impact on the lives of students in our communities and others throughout the commonwealth in the decades to come,” Davis said. “ARPA presents a rare opportunity to achieve that positive impact while limiting the burden on our communities and I’m hopeful our legislative partners will take advantage of the chance.”

To learn more about the building project, visit NortheastBuildingProject.com.

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