School Finance and District Support
FY16 Update on State Aid Programs for Elementary and Secondary Education
July 17, 2015
The Governor signed the fiscal year 2016 budget. Here is a summary of the major provisions relating to state aid for elementary and secondary education.
The FY16 budget allocates $4,511,882,199 in Chapter 70 education aid to Massachusetts local and regional school districts. This is an increase of $111 million or 2.5 percent. Every operating district receives at least $25 in additional aid per student, and 83 operating districts receive increases so that they can keep pace with increases in their foundation budgets.
Special Education Circuit Breaker
The circuit breaker program has been funded at $271,722,425, an increase of $18.3m from last year's funding. Claim forms for FY15 expenses were due July 6th. Claims will be reviewed as they are received, and initial payments will be made this fall. We plan to post reimbursement information by mid-September. We expect the reimbursement rate for the initial payments this year will be between 73 and the statutory maximum of 75 percent. After we have posted the reimbursement information, we will announce the districts that will be audited this year as required by statute.
In addition to the reimbursement of FY15 expenses, $5 million will be available for payments to districts experiencing extraordinary increases in their eligible FY16 expenses. We will be changing the claim process for next year's claims as well as extraordinary relief. We will be announcing changes in the late fall.
Charter School Tuition Reimbursement
The appropriation for charter school tuition is $80,500,000, which is 59.8 percent of the full entitlement. The $80.5 million includes $33.1 in facilities aid which is funded at 100 percent. The remaining $47.4 million covers 82.8 percent of the first year increase in tuition; the remaining five years of reimbursements are not funded.
The individual district amounts will change throughout the year as enrollment and tuition rates are finalized.
Regional and Vocational Transportation
Funding for regional school transportation funding was increased to $59,021,000, a $2.5m increase over FY15 and non-resident vocational transportation was funded at $1,750,000 (the line item was cut during the 9C cuts in last year). Payments will be made to districts based on reported expenses on the FY15 end of year financial returns. Final reimbursement percentages in FY15 were 70.7 percent for regional transportation. Reimbursements for regional transportation in FY16 will likely be between 67 percent and 69 percent, while the reimbursement percentage for non-resident vocational transportation will likely be approximately 59 percent. Final percentages will be calculated after we have received and processed all districts' end of year returns.
The appropriation for homeless transportation reimbursement was funded at $8,350,000 an increase of $1 million. Payments will be made to districts based on reported expenses on the FY15 end of year financial returns. The final reimbursement percentage in FY15 was 34.4 percent for homeless transportation. The FY16 line item funding will enable us to reimburse districts between 37-39 percent.