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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Proposed Changes to the Calculation of Charter School Tuition and Reimbursements

January 28, 2009

The Governor has proposed several changes to the charter tuition payment and reimbursement process. If adopted by the Legislature, these changes will simplify the accounting for charter school tuition and will also give sending school districts a more reliable projection of expected costs for budgeting purposes.

There are four elements to the proposed change:

  • Sending districts will only be responsible for the foundation base rate and above foundation spending components of the tuition rate formula. The third component will be paid directly to the charter schools by the state. (In past years, the districts had to account for both this expense and for the offsetting state reimbursement.)

  • Tuition charges to sending districts will be based on the prior year's enrollment and tuition rates. This is analogous to how Chapter 70 operates, with district aid based on the prior year's enrollment.

  • Sending districts will receive two years of transitional reimbursement. In FY10, districts will receive 60% of the tuition increase from FY08 to FY09, and 40% of the tuition increase from FY07 to FY08.

  • Charter schools will be paid directly by the state for the difference between last year's tuition and this year's tuition (in effect replacing the old 100% reimbursement program for current year increases).

The advantage of this approach can be seen in the Projected FY10 Charter School Tuition Payments and Reimbursements for Sending Districts Download MS EXCEL Document. Since these projections are based on actual FY09 data rather than charter school pre-enrollment data for FY10, they are highly reliable. There may be some additional adjustments to FY09 data over the next several months, but these adjustments should be relatively minor. Once the FY09 data is finalized in late winter, these numbers will become the firm and final numbers for districts' FY10 charter tuition expenses. Districts will no longer need to adjust their budgets in the fall to reflect the current year's actual charter enrollment.

Charter schools will continue to receive quarterly payments based on (a) current year enrollment and (b) current year tuition rates. The tuition rate calculations remain unchanged. See "Understanding the Tuition Rate Formula" Download MS EXCEL Document on this website, which describes the three components of the tuition rate - the foundation base rate, the above foundation spending component, and the facilities component. For FY10, the facilities component remains unchanged at $893 per pupil. In the spring, after charter schools have submitted their pre-enrollment reports for the 2009-2010 school year, we will publish our projections of tuition payments expected to be paid to each school.

For further information on these proposed changes, contact Jeff Wulfson, Roger Hatch, or Hadley Cabral in the ESE School Finance Office.



Last Updated: January 28, 2009
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