“While the state’s education funding formula has brought a degree of stability that was desperately needed in our state, there are still problems and issues that have arisen, depriving students of the crucial funding that they deserve. These three bills will hopefully rectify some of these issues, further strengthening our educational system for the benefit of our students,” said Chairwoman Cano.
The first bill (2023-S 0064) would provide state funding for school-based mental health services. The bill states that the permanent foundation educational aid program would provide state funding for school-based mental health services. For a period of three years, local education agencies (LEAs) shall receive direct state support for costs associated with hiring mental and behavioral health professionals, including, but not limited to, certified school psychologists, certified social workers, or certified counselors.
“Children and educators need our help and support to address the growing mental health concerns of our students. The pandemic has also brought about several new mental health challenges for our kids so there needs to be dedicated funding to ensure that their mental health needs are met and sustained. By supporting students’ mental health needs, we will help them come to school better prepared to learn, providing them with the opportunities that they deserve to set them on the path for lifelong success,” said Chairwoman Cano.
The second bill (2023-S 0067) would better support English language learners through the state’s education funding formula.
“Our students need and deserve multilingual fluency. That means we recognize and meet them with the language they already know, and fully support them in becoming fluent in other languages, whether they are starting in English or learning it. I was an English as a Second Language student myself, and am bilingual. As someone who is a product of multilingual education, I firmly believe in the importance of these investments, which provide competitive advantages to our students in the future,” added Chairwoman Cano.
The last bill (2023-S 0069) introduced by Chairwoman Cano would allow local education agencies (LEAs) that are hiring site-based specialists for reading and math to receive state reimbursement based on enrollment and specific guidelines.
“We know that test scores and proficiency for reading and math are not where they need to be, and this is particularly true when looking at these metrics for students of color and those in the lower-performing urban districts. This bill will allow our schools to hire the specialists needed to close this troublesome achievement gap that too many of Rhode Island’s students are facing,” concluded Chairwoman Cano.
The first two bills were referred to the Senate Finance Committee and the third bill was referred to the Senate