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School Finance: School Choice

School Choice Roster Updates, Spring 2017

The school choice claim form and special education increment form are now available on the Security Portal for receiving districts to download and update as part of the school choice claims process. This involves the following steps:

  1. Review and update the school choice claim form, including adding or removing students, entering addresses, updating start and end dates, and entering special education increments and transportation amounts.
  2. Complete the special education increment form to cost out services for school choice students receiving special education and, once completed, enter these amounts on the school choice claim form.
  3. Upload the completed school choice claim form and special education increment form to the School Choice Claim Form dropbox on the Security Portal by April 28, 2017.

ESE released preliminary fiscal year 2017 school choice numbers in December 2016 based on the October 1, 2016 enrollment submitted by receiving districts through SIMS. These numbers were used to determine school choice payments and assessments for the monthly local aid distribution. The purpose of the school choice claims process is to update these numbers so that final fiscal year 2017 payments and assessments can be made with the May and June local aid distributions.

School Choice Claim Form

The school choice law requires both a fall and a spring enrollment reporting period. For this spring's reporting, receiving districts are asked to download their current school choice claim form and special education increment form from the School Choice Claim Form dropbox on the Security Portal.

Because SIMS does not collect addresses, district staff should enter that information along with the city or town of residence for each student. Start and/or leave dates should be entered for any student who enrolled after the first day of school or left the district before the last day of school. In addition, for any school choice student who receives special education services, a student-specific special education cost should be calculated using the special education increment form and entered on the school choice claim form along with any associated transportation costs, if applicable (see additional information about completing the special education increment form below).

Once the school choice claim form and special education increment forms are completed, they must be uploaded to the district's School Choice Claim Form dropbox on the Security Portal by April 28, 2017. The updated data will be used to calculate final fiscal year 2017 school choice tuitions. The May and June local aid distributions will be adjusted to account for the difference between final annual tuition and the amounts paid in the first ten monthly distributions during fiscal year 2017.

There are additional instructions on how to complete the school choice claim form included in the school choice claim form workbook along with a certification statement that must be signed and returned by the receiving district.

The School Choice Special Education Increment Form

School choice special education pupils' tuitions are intended to reflect the actual costs of their specific services. These special education increments and any associated transportation costs are added to a receiving district's base regular education rate to determine the total cost for these students. The sending district pays the full combined amount.

For the preliminary fiscal year school choice calculations, ESE estimated the annual fiscal year 2017 increments as follows:

  • If a student had a special education school choice increment in fiscal year 2016, that amount was used as the estimate, or
  • The student's increment was estimated based on statewide averages for his or her special education placement type (SIMS element DOE034).

The school choice special education increment form is similar to the one used to determine circuit breaker costs. However, unlike the circuit breaker form, it does not count a base cost for regular education in the calculations. School choice regulations specify a separate calculation for the regular education base cost, which is combined with the special education increment and any related transportation costs stipulated by the IEP to determine total tuition.

ESE has created a special education increment form for each receiving district that includes all of the school choice students who had special education increments in fiscal year 2016, if any. If there were no students reported last year, then a blank file is available. This file can be downloaded from the district's School Choice Claim Form dropbox on the Security Portal. When downloading the file, please do not change the filename or the form will not function properly.

Any district staff who work on the special education increment form should have completed ESE's circuit breaker training. After downloading the file, review the students included on the form and add, remove, or update student information as needed based on valid IEPs to reflect current special education enrollment and program costs. For students who were enrolled last year and are still receiving services, the staff completing the form should review and, if needed, update the services that the student is receiving to determine their fiscal year 2017 special education increment. Also, any school choice students who are new to the district or who started receiving special education services in fiscal year 2017 should be added to the template so that the cost of their services can be determined.

After saving the data, each pupil's increment can be found on the sum_all sheet of the special education increment workbook under the Total Claim column. That amount should be entered in the Special Education Increment column of the school choice claim form.

Please note these important considerations when completing the special education increment form:

  • If special education students are submitted with no associated increments on the school choice claim form, their June tuitions will not reflect any of the earlier estimates. This means that they will not be credited with any additional costs other than their regular education tuition rate. Any student with a special education increment should have an associated special education placement code on the school choice claim form.
  • Students with special education increments included on the school choice claim form must be included on the special education increment form.
  • If a student's IEP requires transportation, that cost should be reported in the transportation column on the school choice claim form.
  • Any changes made to a student's IEP during the year may mean that the student will need to have at least two placement records entered on the form even though they remained in the district all year. The template is designed to add these costs to determine a total increment covering the services that were delivered over the course of the year.
  • All special education increment forms are subject to audit by ESE staff.

Submitting the Forms

Each district must upload its completed school choice claim form and special education increment form to the School Choice Claim Form dropbox on the Security Portal by April 28, 2017. Districts are also required to submit a signed certification statement along with their school choice forms. This statement is included in the school choice claim form workbook. For questions related to either form contact:

School choice claim form:

Rob O'Donnell
781-338-6512

Special education increment form:

Elena DeMelin
781-338-6591



Last Updated: March 23, 2017
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