Chapter 70 Aid - Open Letter from GMRSD Civic Leaders

We are members of a group of civic leaders in the Gill-Montague Regional School District. Our group was convened by Superintendent Michael Sullivan, and it includes members of the district school committee and the selectboards and finance committees of the member towns, Gill and Montague. We have been meeting for over a year to discuss the challenges facing our district and various strategies for meeting them.

Some of our discussions have focused on the state’s Chapter 70 formula for providing school funding, and in doing so we have identified one aspect of the formula which we believe deserves wider attention and scrutiny. This is the so-called “cap”, which limits a town’s required local contribution to 82.5% of its foundation budget. The letter attached below describes this cap in more detail, as well as why we consider it to be fundamentally unfair to a majority of the towns in the Commonwealth. The attached data sheet shows the effect of this cap on FY19 local contributions. As you will see, a substantial amount of money is involved. This letter has been endorsed by the GMRSD school committee and by the selectboards and finance committees of Gill and Montague.

We are under no illusions that this is the only problem with the Chapter 70 formula, or that the problem that we describe can be easily fixed.  However, we believe that it is a serious problem that is not widely recognized and (perhaps as a result) has not received sufficient attention in the recent discussions of shortcomings in Chapter 70 and how to address them. Our hope is that the attached documents will broaden public and legislative awareness of this issue, and that proposals for potential fixes may result.

We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions; you can reach us by email to We look forward to participating in a wider conversation around this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Joanne Blier, Director of Business & Operations, Gill-Montague Regional School District
Tupper Brown, member of the Gill Finance Committee
Michael Naughton, member of the Montague Finance Committee
Gregory Snedeker, member of the Gill Selectboard

Open Letter: Chapter 70 Funding Formula Disproportionately Taxes Poorer Communities
Data Sheet (Attachment to GMRSD Civic Leaders' Open Letter on Chapter 70 Inequities)