Education Laws and Regulations
Acts of 2005 Relative to Public Education
|To:||Superintendents, Charter School Leaders and Interested Parties|
|From:||David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education|
|Date:||September 6, 2006|
The 184th General Court enacted the following legislation affecting public education. These laws, which are listed in the order in which they were enacted, became law during the 2005 legislative year.
Fiscal Year 2006 State Budget
Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on June 30, 2005, appropriated more than $3.9 billion in state funding of education in the Commonwealth's public schools. The major provisions relating to school finance and state aid programs are as follows. Categorical grant program highlights and changes are distributed through the appropriate Department of Elementary and Secondary Education program units (see Grants for details).
Chapter 70 The final Chapter 70 appropriation of $3,288.9 million represented a 3.3% increase over the FY05 funding level.
The budget also included $6.87 million for foundation reserve ("pothole") awards, and established some additional categories for eligibility.
Special Education Funding The circuit breaker program headed into its third year of operation with a $201.6 million appropriation. The reimbursement rate for FY06 payments was the statutory 75% rate. The program again included a $3 million reserve for districts experiencing extraordinary increases in their current year (FY06) costs. It also included funding for a pilot program to study the role of collaboratives in providing cost effective transportation services for special education students. This pilot program is in progress. Tuition rates for approved private schools, which had been frozen in FY05, were increased by 2.66% for inflation by the Operational Services Division. For school district reimbursements see the Circuit Breaker webpage.
Transportation Funding Regional school transportation funding was increased by 18.4% to $45 million. FY 2006 payments have been made and are posted on the Department's website. The final reimbursement percentage was 78.08%. For school district reimbursements see Transportation webpage.
The transportation reimbursement program for students attending out-of-district vocational programs under Chapter 74 was continued and level funded at $1.6 million. For more information see Advisory on Non-Resident Vocational Transportation webpage.
Charter School Funding The new charter school tuition formula adopted in FY05 remained in effect for FY06. The budget included $50.1 million for tuition reimbursements to districts and $14.8 million for the facilities component of the new formula. Final FY06 charter school tuition and reimbursements are available at the Final FY06 Charter School Tuition and Reimbursements webpage.
The full text of the fiscal year 2006 state budget is available at Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2005.
Creditable Service for Vocational Education Teachers
Chapter 90 of the Acts of 2005, which was approved September 15, 2005 by an override vote of the House and Senate, amends Chapter 32, section 4 of the General Laws. It entitles teachers employed as vocational-technical school teachers to creditable service towards retirement for work experience in the occupational field in which they teach and which was required as a condition of employment in the vocational school. This new law applies to members of the teachers' retirement system or a teacher who is a member of the State-Boston retirement system. No credit will be granted until the member has paid into the Annuity Savings Fund of the retirement system either as a lump sum or in installments. A member must have completed ten or more years of membership service to be eligible and allowable creditable service shall not exceed three years.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 90 of the Acts of 2005.
For information on the application of this law to specific cases, please contact the Teachers Retirement Board.
Federal Reimbursement for Certain Services for Children with Autism
Chapter 107 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on October 5, 2005, requires the secretary of health and human services to apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a home and community-based services waiver to allow eligible children with autism spectrum disorder to receive waiver services to support said children in their homes and communities. Components of the waiver application are noted in the new law. Of specific interest to public schools is the following language:
Services under the waiver shall be coordinated with services provided by school committees under chapters 71B and 111G of the General Laws. This section shall not affect or limit a school district's ability to obtain Medicaid reimbursement for school-related health services, or affect or limit a school districts responsibility to provide all services, including home-based services, required pursuant to said chapter 71B, 20 U.S.C. section 1400 to 1487, inclusive, and 29 U.S.C. section 794.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 107 of the Acts of 2005.
High School Diplomas Available for Certain Veterans
Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on Veterans' Day, November 11, 2005, is the Welcome Home Bill for Massachusetts service members, veterans and their families. Among the provisions of the new law is the opportunity for veterans of World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam War who meet eligibility requirements to receive a high school diploma. The veteran must be a Massachusetts resident who attended high school and withdrew prior to graduation in order to serve in the United States armed services and did not receive a high school diploma as a result. The veteran must have received an honorable discharge from the armed services.
Section 4 of Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following 2 paragraphs:
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, school committees may award diplomas to any World War II veteran, Korean War veteran or Vietnam War veteran as defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4, who is a resident of the commonwealth, who attended the high school maintained by the school committee, who withdrew from secondary school before graduation in order to serve in the armed forces of the United States, who did not receive a high school diploma as a consequence of that service, and who was honorably discharged from the armed services. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the department of veterans' services shall jointly promulgate guidelines for the identification of eligible veterans by school districts and for the awarding of the diplomas by school committees.
Family members of deceased veterans, who otherwise are eligible to apply for the diplomas, may apply for a diploma for the veteran posthumously under the same guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and department of veterans services.
The guidelines jointly promulgated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Veterans Services are available at the memo: Diplomas for Eligible Veterans.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2005.
School Cost Reimbursements in Smart Growth Communities
Chapter 141of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on November 22, 2005, entitles cities and towns that establish one or more smart growth zoning districts to smart growth school cost reimbursements from the Commonwealth. It amends Chapter 40 of the General Laws by adding a new section 40S. A "smart growth zoning district" is a zoning district adopted by a community and approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development which is eligible, and which remains eligible for density bonus payments under Chapter 40R. Additional Chapter 70 aid is available for each municipality as calculated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education equal to the actual increase in Chapter 70 aid payments that is attributable to the number of each municipality¼s eligible students from the school district. In the case of regional school districts, the amount of additional Chapter 70 aid shall be apportioned among member communities proportionally based upon the number of eligible students from each member municipality.
For each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2008, any city or town that has established one or more smart growth zoning districts shall receive smart growth school cost reimbursement from the Commonwealth, subject to appropriation.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 141 of the Acts of 2005.
Students Receiving Special Education Services in State Institutions
Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2005, a supplemental budget measure, included in section 8 an amendment to Chapter 71B, section 12 of the General Laws. The amendment clarifies that students with disabilities who are admitted to a day special education program at a state institution, as well as students who are admitted to residential programs at these facilities, are eligible to have tuition paid by their school districts. The text of the amendment reads as follows:
The city, town or regional school district in which each school-age child in any institution described in this section would normally be eligible to attend school and the city, town, or regional school district in which each day student admitted to an institution under the control of the department of public health and receiving educational services from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would normally be eligible to attend school shall pay to the commonwealth the costs of the education of that child in the school department of that institution in an amount determined according to the regulations issued under section 10. The payment for each such child shall not be less than its average per pupil cost for pupils of comparable age within the city, town or regional school district. The amount due the commonwealth each year shall be deducted from the annual distribution to said city, town or regional school district pursuant to section 20 of chapter 59.
Acts of 2005 affecting specific school districts
Chapter 9 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on March 15, 2005, authorizes the school department of the city of Revere to remain open, and to and conduct student instruction on Thursday March 17, 2005, and Friday June 17, 2005. These days are Suffolk County holidays Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day, respectively.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 9 of the Acts of 2005.
Chesterfield - Goshen Regional School District
Chapter 94 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on September 23, 2005, authorizes the Chesterfield Goshen Regional School District to borrow up to $600,000 to operate the regional school district while it adjusts its expenses and revenues. The law also details the issuance of bonds and notes necessary for implementation.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 94 of the Acts of 2005.
Chapter 186 of the Acts of 2005, which was signed into law on January 5, 2006, authorizes the town of Bridgewater to appropriate $265,000 from the capital projects fund to pay for the town's share of the rentals of modular classrooms at the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School and M.G. Williams Middle School and the rental of the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Center.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 186 of the Acts of 2005.