By Christina Hager

CHELSEA (CBS) — Chelsea school board members are appealing to Governor Charlie Baker for funding he promised months ago —  before the pandemic hit.

“Our students have had underfunded schools for many many years. This is a problem that goes before COVID even we knew what it was,” said Chelsea School Board Member Roberto Jimenez Rivera. “When you have an environment at home that’s filled with stress because you’re around too many people. You might have students who can’t log onto the computer at home because they don’t have a computer,” he said.

They sent a letter to the governor, along with 25 other so-called “gateway cities” including Everett, Brockton, Lowell, and Lawrence. The cities said they were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with more essential workers, and higher rates of infection.

In Chelsea, which led the state in cases, grandmother Gloria Diaz told WBZ she came down with COVID-19 while taking care of her grandchildren who were home from school, while their mother was at work. “It’s the worst,” she said. “It was really bad.”

Last fall, Baker signed an education bill that would boost school funding by $1.5 billion over seven years, prioritizing districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families.

On Tuesday, he said it’s impossible to know how much money will be available since the tax deadline was extended. “We don’t know what actually is going to get paid for those tax payments that were due in April…until people file in July,” Baker explained.

He said he’s optimistic state and federal aid money will help schools in gateway cities pay for supplies they will need to meet coronavirus safety requirements in the fall.

Christina Hager

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