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How state budget affects Arlington: AYCC, park at Thompson

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UPDATED: Arlington's state legislative leaders have announced funding for a number of projects in and around the town listed in the fiscal 2019 state budget.

State Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), state Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and state Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) say in a joint news release that the final budget features investments in areas related to public education, local aid, transportation, health and human services, housing and assistance for low-income families.

The budget includes Arlington-related items, including $160,000 for Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC). The AYCC provides therapeutic, community-based counseling services for youth from 3 to 21 years old and their families.

With additional financial assistance from the budget, the AYCC will continue to provide outpatient community-based mental-health treatment to Arlington youth and families. Furthermore, additional capacity will be added to the AYCC, allowing more youth to be treated without being placed on a waitlist for an extended period of time.

Colleen Leger, director of the AYCC, told YourArlington on Aug. 1 that the center "is delighted to receive funding support from the state, and we are grateful to Sen. Friedman, Rep. Garballey and Rep. Rogers for prioritizing access to mental-health services as a need among youth and families in Arlington.

"This funding ensures that all community youth and their families have access to comprehensive, affordable and outstanding mental-health care and other social services through AYCC."

In addition to individual and family counseling, AYCC offers school-based counseling, group therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, substance use evaluation, support groups for survivors of domestic violence, and community resource supports for Arlington residents with critical life needs.

These services are available to all youth and families in the community, regardless of their ability to pay. AYCC provides free and reduced-fee services to families who cannot afford the cost of care.

$100K for Lussiano Park

In addition, $100,000 was included in the fiscal '19 budget to support Lussiano Park at the Thompson Elementary School and $50,000 for the Jason Russell House and Smith Museum. The park, an important resource for the Town of Arlington, has not been upgraded in over 25 years.

The delegation also secured $40,000 to provide late-afternoon and evening transportation for METCO students attending public schools in Arlington and Lexington. The program seeks to expand educational opportunities and increase diversity in classrooms by allowing students in various cities and towns to attend public schools in other communities.

“Many students in Arlington benefit from the METCO program,” Friedman said in the release. “Expanding access to transportation will ensure that METCO students have the opportunity to fully participate in after school athletics and extracurricular programs at Arlington and Lexington high schools.”

Chapter 70 funding for Arlington schools is $11,765,923 this year. Both the Chapter 70 figures and those for AYCC are increases over the fiscal '18 budget. Unrestricted general government aide for the town is $7,844,260.

“I am very pleased that, working as a delegation, we were able to secure a number of important priorities for Arlington,” Garballey said in the release. “It is critical that we pass a budget that reflects our values. I am proud to have advocated for a budget that prioritizes supporting the most vulnerable, including our children, in Massachusetts.”

Rep. Rogers added: “I am very proud of all we were able to secure for Arlington in the state budget this fiscal year. This funding will greatly benefit our community and the state as a whole. Thank you to my fellow members of the Arlington delegation for their hard work; this was a team effort.”

Education-funding pluses, minus

Education highlights include $319.4 million that will fund the special-education circuit breaker. $68.9 million will go toward servicing regional school transportation. Funding includes $2.5 million for early childhood mental health and $20 million for early education.

More than $150 million will be used for various affordable-housing programs.

Finally, $142 millions will be used to combat the state’s opioid epidemic by building five new recovery centers.

The release does not report another outcome from votes taken early Wednesday, Aug. 1: No agreement was reached on changes to the foundation budget, which pay for how school aid is allocated.  Read an Aug. 1 Globe story reporting the reaction >>

 July 31, 2018: Legislators reach deal on opioids, but not health care, by end of session

This news summary was published Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, and updated the same day, to add AYCC response.

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