Education Laws and Regulations
Acts of 2006 Relative to Public Education
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 2006 legislative year.
Elevator License Examinations
Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law on March 23, 2006, amends various provisions relative to the operation of the board of elevator regulations and sets qualifications for persons entitled to sit for examinations for certification as elevator constructors, maintenance persons, and repairmen, including, but not limited to work experience. Most relevant to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is the provision in section 6, subsection (c), requiring applicants to document educational experience consisting of at least 450 hours of classroom training which is recognized and accredited by the Division of Apprentice Training or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will defer to the Division of Apprentice Training and the Executive Office of Public Safety in these matters.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2006.
Special Education Needs of Children with Autism
Chapter 57 of the Acts of 2006 was signed into law on April 7, 2006 and amends provisions in chapter 71B, section 3 of the Massachusetts General Laws relative to the identification of children with special educational needs. When evaluations indicate that children have disabilities on the autism spectrum, including, but not limited to autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or Rhett's Syndrome, the Individualized Education Program team is required to consider seven items. Consideration shall be given to the verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the children, the need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies, the needs resulting from the child's responses to sensory experiences, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, and the need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder, and other needs resulting from the child's disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development.
Further guidance is provided on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website at the Administrative Advisory SPED 2007-1: IDEA-2004 Implementing Regulations webpage.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 57 of the Acts of 2006.
Access to Student Records
Chapter 62 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law on April 13, 2006, amends section 34H of chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws concerning access to student records by non-custodial parents. Non-custodial parents are entitled to access to their child's information unless they are currently denied legal custody or visitation, are subject to supervised visitation, or are subject to protective orders. Parents requesting information are to do so in writing to the school principal. The school is required to search student records for evidence of documents restricting parental access to the requested information, and to provide notice to the custodial parent.
The Student Records Regulations, 603 CMR 23.00, have been amended to incorporate the new provisions of state law.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 62 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 64 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law April 14, 2006, includes in section 13 a change in the per pupil capital needs component of the Commonwealth Charter School tuition rate for FY 2006 to $776.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 64 of the Acts of 2006.
Reporting of Fires in Schools
Chapter 80 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into on May 12, 2006, amends Chapter 71, section 37L of the General Laws and requires each school committee to inform teachers, administrators, and other professional staff of reporting requirements relating to fires. (G.L. c. 71, s. 37L already requires each school committee to inform teachers, administrators, and other professional staff of reporting requirements relating to child abuse and neglect.)
The law also amends Chapter 148 of the Massachusetts General Laws to require principals of public and private schools to report any incident involving the unauthorized ignition of any fire within the school building or on school grounds to the local fire department. The principal is required submit the report within 24 hours of the incident. The Department worked with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and provides a form designed by the Department of Fire Services for use by school principals. This law will take effect at the start of the 2006-2007 school year. Fire and law enforcement authorities have long sought this law so they can better protect their communities. For more information on this law, please see Department of Fire Services website.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 80 of the Acts of 2006.
Health Insurance for School Employees
Chapter 90 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law on May 19, 2006, amends section 2 of chapter 32B of the General Laws and classifies all public school employees as employees during the months of July and August, under the contributory group general or blanket insurance plan for those individuals in the service of counties, cities, towns, and districts. The law requires deduction of contributions for inclusion during the prior school year. The law became effective immediately.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 90 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2006, which was approved in part on June 24, 2006, provided supplemental appropriations and other actions. Relevant to education are:
An appropriation of $500,000 for grants to junior achievement organizations which was approved by an override vote of the legislature (line item 7035-0123)
Several provisions regarding the Massachusetts School Building Authority (sections 6, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 58). For current school building project information, please visit the Massachusetts School Building Authority website.
The continuation of the middle level education study commission reporting date to June 30, 2007 (outside section 56)
A $1.25 million earmark for the1:1 wireless initiative at the New Boston Pilot Middle School (outside section 104)
A $66,000 grant to the Greater Lawrence Spanish Community Services Program (outside section 113)
A $52,858 MCAS support earmark for the Dennison Memorial Community Center in New Bedford (outside section 114)
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2006.
Economic Stimulus Bill
Chapter 123 of the Acts of 2006, which was approved in part on June 24, 2006, provides for a variety of economic investments in the Commonwealth to promote job creation, economic stability, and competitiveness in the Massachusetts economy. Items relative to education include:
The Governor setting aside the third week in November as "International Education Week" for the purpose of encouraging schools to participate in programs of international education, which was approved by an override of the Governor's veto (section 3)
The global education advisory council exploring international opportunities for learning, exchange programs and the availability of curriculum materials for students, teachers, administrators and educational policy makers and make recommendations to the Commissioner, which was approved by an override of the Governor's veto (section 6)
The Commissioner is authorized to recognize a school that meets the standards for international education programs established by the Global Education Advisory Council and shall, subject to appropriation, award grants not to exceed $10,000 to local and regional school districts to support international education programs, which was approved by an override of the Governor's veto (section 7)
The Robert H. Goddard Council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education is established within the Board of Higher Education, with the Commissioner as a designated member (section 8)
The reestablishment of the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Council which was created by chapter 141 of the Acts of 2003, including the addition of a new Massachusetts Academy for Life Sciences, subject to appropriation from the STEM Pipeline Fund, to establish a program with mobile science labs for 5 regions of the state (section 30); $4 million transferred to the fund (section 98)
The establishment of 5 new funds on the books of the Commonwealth: the Education Rewards Fund Grant Program ($1.5 million transferred, section 99), the CITI Fund ($1 million transferred, section 100), the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Scholar-Internship Match Fund ($2.5 million transferred, section 101), and International Education and Foreign Language Grant Program Fund, and Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (section 31, which was returned by the Governor and subsequently became Chapter 168 of the Acts of 2006)
An increase of $3 million in the School-to-Career Connecting Activities FY 2006 line item, which was approved by an override of the Governor's veto (section 91)
An increase of $3.5 million in the Adult Basic Education FY 2006 line item (section 93)
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 123 of the Acts of 2006.
Fiscal Year 2007 Budget
Chapter 139 of the Acts of 2006, the FY 2007 state budget, was signed into law on July 8, 2006. It provides $3.506 billion in Chapter 70 state school aid for the coming year, an increase of $217 million (6.6%) over FY06. The budget also included the first major overhaul of the Chapter 70 formula since the 1993 education reform law. These changes were the result of several years of discussions and debate. Hundreds of municipal and school officials, parents, researchers, and others provided valuable comments and suggestions during this process.
In particular, the new formula addresses the issue of "taxpayer equity", using updated municipal income and property data to ensure that communities of similar wealth are treated comparably. It also simplifies the calculation of state aid allotments and ensures that state aid will keep pace in districts with growing enrollments.
Highlights of the new formula:
- The foundation budget calculation has been simplified, with the previous 18 categories reduced to 11 categories. The new categories match the categories used by districts to report their actual spending.
- Foundation budget factors are increased for inflation by 5.86%. The 4.5% cap on inflation adjustments in the old formula has been eliminated, allowing for full adjustments for inflation.
- The foundation budget increment for English language learners has been increased by $50 per student, and the increment for low-income students has been increased by $25 per student.
- The new formula adopts the new "aggregate wealth model" for determining required local contribution targets, with property values and personal income levels given equal weight.
- The formula sets a statewide target of 59% local funding and 41% state funding of the foundation budget. For individual communities, the target percentages will vary depending on the community's wealth.
- The target local contributions are capped at 82.5% of foundation budget. When fully phased in, this cap will guarantee that every district receives state aid for at least 17.5% of its foundation budget.
- Chapter 70 state aid will include four components:
- Foundation aid, to make up the difference between a district's foundation budget and its required local contribution.
- Down payment aid, to provide districts with a share of the additional funding that they will eventually receive when the local contribution targets are fully phased in.
- Growth aid, which guarantees an increase in state aid for any district whose foundation budget has increased, even if the district is already at foundation.
- Minimum aid, which guarantees a small ($50 per student) increase in aid to those districts with significant enrollment declines.
Many of the changes in the formula are being phased in over a period of several years, so the FY07 state aid allotments and required local contributions do not fully reflect the impact of these changes. For more details please visit the FY07 Chapter 70 Aid and Net School Spending Requirements webpage.
Non-Discretionary State Aid:
- Regional Transportation is increased by $10.5 million
- Chapter 70, foundation Aid is increased by $216.6 million
- The Circuit Breaker Program is increased by $6.1 million
- Charter School Reimbursements and Charter School Facilities Aid Programs are combined into one account totaling $73.8 million, reflecting a net increase of $8.9 million.
Assessment and Accountability:
- The Certificate of Occupational Proficiency is increased by $200,000
- Student Assessment (MCAS) is increased by $4.5 million
- Extended Learning Time Grants if funded at $6.5 million.
Educator Quality Enhancements:
- English Language Acquisition Professional Development is a new line item funded at $500,000
- School Leadership Development for Principals and Superintendents is a new line item funded at $1.0 million
- Teacher Content Training in Math and Science is newly funded at $2.0 million.
Categorical Grant Programs:
- METCO is increased by $2.0 million
- Work Based Learning is increased by $2.0 million
- School-to-Work Connecting Activities is increased by $200,000
- Adult Learning Centers is increased by $3.2 million
- W.P.I. School of Excellence is increased by $251,000
- The Pilot concurrent Enrollment Program is newly funded at $2.0 million
- Matching Grants to Citizen Schools is newly funded at $300,000
- The After-School Grant program is newly funded at $1.0 million
- Gifted and Talented Grant Program is increased by $250,000
- The YouthBuild Program is increased by $600,000
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Administration:
- The Department's main administration account is increased by $1.46 million
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and District Data & Reporting Tools Initiative is newly funded at $5.2 million.
The full text of the FY 2007 state budget is available at Chapter 139 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2006, which became law without Executive approval on July 11, 2006, became effective upon passage. It appropriated $4.6 million to various school-to-work programs.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2006.
Allowing Students with Disabilities to Participate in Graduation Ceremonies
Chapter 152 of the Acts of 2006, which was approved on July 13, 2006, amends Chapter 71B of the General Laws by adding a new section 16 relating to participation of students with disabilities in high school graduation ceremonies. It allows students with disabilities who are completing the twelfth grade to participate in high school graduation ceremonies and activities, even if they did not pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) examination, provided that they have met other criteria. The student must have maintained at least a 95 percent attendance level, have taken the MCAS examination in each subject area not passed at least 3 times (or submitted at least 2 portfolios for the MCAS-Alt), and be in good standing having met all local nonacademic standards. A high school diploma is not awarded and participation does not limit the student's eligibility for special education services.
For a more detailed advisory, please see the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website at the memo: Legislative Action on behalf of Students with Disabilities, Summer 2006.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 152 of the Acts of 2006.
Creditable Service for Certain State Contract Employees
Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law on July 19, 2006, entitles certain qualified members of the state employees' retirement system who previously served as a contract employee for any department, agency, board or commission of the Commonwealth, to establish as "creditable service" up to four years of that service.
The Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board and the Massachusetts State Retirement Board may be contacted for details.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2006.
Establishing Educational Funds
Chapter 168 of the Acts of 2006, which was approved on July 21, 2006 by the House of Representatives and the Senate, became effective immediately. The new law establishes five new state funds: the Educational Rewards Grant Program Fund, the CITI Fund for the continuation of the Commonwealth Information Technology Initiative, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Scholar-Internship Match Fund, the International Education and Foreign Language Grant Program Fund, and the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 168 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006, which was signed into law on July 28, 2006, amends a number of provisions in the General Laws. The relevant education provisions are:
- M.G.L. c. 21H, Section 6G (as amended by Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006, effective October 1, 2006):
No school in the commonwealth shall purchase for use in a primary or secondary classroom elemental mercury, mercury compounds or mercury-added instructional equipment and materials, except measuring devices and thermometers for which no adequate nonmercury substitute exists that are used in school laboratories. This section shall not apply to the sale of mercury-added lamps or those products whose only mercury-added component is a mercury-added lamp or lamps.
- M.G.L. c. 21H, Section 6I (as amended by Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006, effective May 1, 2008):
No person, household, business, school, healthcare facility or state or municipal government shall knowingly dispose of a mercury-added product in any manner other than by recycling, disposing as hazardous waste or using a method approved by the department [of environmental protection].
- M.G.L. c. 21H, Section 6N (as amended by Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006, effective October 26, 2006):
The department [of environmental protection] shall adopt rules and regulations as may be necessary for the implementation of this chapter.
- Section 13 of Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006:
On or before May 1, 2007, the department of environmental protection shall create an education program for persons, households, businesses, schools, healthcare facilities and state and municipal governments regarding the disposal of mercury and seek public comment on the program.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 192 of the Acts of 2006 was signed into law, in part, on July 28, 2006. Included in this supplemental budget are provisions to make funds available in FY 2007 for the following line items:
- 7027- 0016 Work Based Learning, $2.6 million
- 7027-0019 School-to-Work Connecting Activities, $3 million
- 7035-0002 Adult Learning Centers, $3 million
- 7035-0004 Greater Lawrence Community Service Program
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 192 of the Acts of 2006.
Granting School Nurses Professional Teacher Status
Chapter 267 of the Acts of 2006, which was passed over the Governor's veto on July 24, 2006 and approved August 21, 2006, amends Chapter 71 section 41 of the General Laws to include school nurses in the list of school personnel (including teachers, school librarians, school adjustment counselors, school social workers and school psychologists) who are eligible for professional teacher status if they meet certain established criteria.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 267 of the Acts of 2006.
Acts of 2006 Relative to Specific School Districts
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School
Chapter 9 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act relative to the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School District," was approved January 25, 2006. This law amends various provisions of chapter 463 of the Acts of 2004 relative to the establishment and operation of the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School District. It increases the number of members on the temporary oversight board for the district from 11 to 13 to include the superintendent-director of the North Shore Regional Vocational School and the Superintendent of the Essex Agricultural and Technical. The time for filing of reports detailing the capital needs of schools is extended from 6 months to 18 months. The school committee is granted the authority to not maintain the current school properties if the creation of new schools calls for their removal, replacement, alteration or rehabilitation. The permissible radius for students attending the school is increased from ten miles to twenty miles.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 9 of the Acts of 2006.
Athol-Royalston Regional School District
Chapter 50 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act regulating the financial conditions in the Athol-Royalston Regional School District," was approved March 31, 2006. The Athol-Royalston Regional School District is authorized to borrow up to one million dollars to maintain and operate the regional school district in order to achieve balanced budgets and fiscal stability. The law also regulates the borrowing and use of the funds.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 50 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 66 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act authorizing the town of Auburn to convey a certain parcel of land," was approved April 20, 2006. The law authorizes the town of Auburn to purchase a specific parcel of land and regulates the terms of the purchase. The parcel is contiguous to the new Auburn High School and will be used by the town in conjunction with the school.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 66 of the Acts of 2006.
Manchester Essex Regional School District
Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act authorizing the issuance of certain bonds by the Manchester Essex Regional School District," was approved on May 4, 2006. The law authorizes the Manchester Essex Regional School District to issue bonds for the purpose of constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new district high school/middle school and for site preparation, development and equipping of related outdoor athletic and recreational facilities; regulates the terms of said bonds.
The full text of the law is available at Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2006.
Pentucket Regional School District
Chapter 108 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act regulating the financial conditions in the Pentucket Regional School District," was approved June 13, 2006. The law authorizes the Pentucket Regional School District to borrow amounts in the aggregate up to $2,500,000 for the purpose of balancing budgets and achieving fiscal stability. There are detailed provisions regulating the procedure for borrowing and allocating said funds.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 108 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 117 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act transferring responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of all city of Lynn school buildings and grounds," was approved June 21, 2006. The law grants authority to the department of inspectional services of the city of Lynn to be responsible for the inspection, maintenance and repairs of all buildings owned by the city of Lynn, including school buildings within the city of Lynn.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 117 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act authorizing certain terms for borrowing by the town of Hopkinton for construction of school buildings, " was approved on July 19, 2006. The law articulates maturity, finance and payment terms for the bonds issued by the town of Hopkinton for the design, development, construction, and equipping of the proposed new Fruit Street elementary school, and the early childhood center buildings and any proposed improvements, equipment and furnishings, and repair and renovation of the Elmwood elementary school. The law became effective upon its passage.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2006.
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District
Chapter 178 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act authorizing the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District to lease certain land," was approved on July 27, 2006. The law authorizes the Martha's Vineyard High School District school committee to enter into a lease with the Y.M.C.A. for the rental of a parcel of land and articulates the conditions of the lease agreement.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 178 of the Acts of 2006.
Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2006, "An Act authorizing the city of Revere to use certain dedicated park land for school purposes," was approved on July 27, 2006. The law authorizes the city of Revere to use the DiSalvo Park land for construction of a new middle and elementary school and for other school purposes.
The full text of the new law is available at Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2006.