SPENCER - State legislators representing Spencer and town officials, in their annual meetup Monday night on town issues, focused on the fiscal 2019 budget, school funding, money for state parks, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.
State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, and state Reps. Peter Durant, R-Spencer, and Donald Berthiaume, R-Spencer, met with the Board of Selectmen and new town administrator, Thomas Gregory.
They all agreed that the state needs to re-evaluate how regional school districts are set up.
"Not every regional school district is created equal," said Selectman Ralph Hicks. "Districts like ours who really have the need need to get what they deserve."
With 58 regional school districts in the state, serving 166 communities and 107,000 students, Mr. Durant said he shares many of the selectmen's concerns, and he expressed his commitment to work toward adequate funding.
"I'm very concerned with regional school transportation," said Mr. Durant. "Local aid is increasing and hopefully we will be asking for 85 percent of funding for regional schools transportation this year."
The selectmen and the legislators also discussed how charter school funding has hurt other public schools and talked about the formula for Chapter 70 funding.
"The formulas are an antique and our systems are being eroded," said Mr. Hicks.
The selectmen expressed their concerns about special education funding staying compliant with mandated programs and their fear of not being able to keep state parks open and usable.
"It's a priority to keep these parks up and running - Rutland State Park and Howe Park here in town," Ms. Gobi said.
Ms. Gobi also gave an update on the work of the state Cannabis Control Commission, which has finalized its recommendations for licensing of recreational marijuana operations, which will begin July 1. The recommendations cover marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales.
The Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School Committee is set to discuss the schools' fiscal 2019 budget Thursday night. The selectmen will review the school budget at their next meeting.