The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Final Report on 2017 Legislation

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner
January 12, 2018

The following laws relating to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) were enacted in 2017. The laws are listed in chronological order.


An Act relative to relative to the Mohawk Trail Regional School District and the Hawlemont School District
Chapter 31 of the Acts of 2017
Effective: 06/30/17
This follow-up legislation to a 1993 law was filed to confirm the Mohawk Trail Regional School District's budget process and their right to approve future amendments in accordance with law and the terms of their agreement after the participating towns approved a change in their regional agreement.

An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids
Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2017 Effective: 02/19/17 (90 days from enactment)
Sections 47 to 54 shall take effect on 05/01/18
The new LOOK law establishes language acquisition programming flexibility for districts and oversight requirements for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Increased Input from Parents and Guardians

Educator Qualifications

Benchmarks, Guidelines and Templates

Data and Reporting

State Seal of Biliteracy

Pre-K English Learners

FY18 Budget Laws
An Act Making Certain Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018 Before Final Action on the General Appropriation Bill
Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2017
Effective: 06/26/17
Directs the state treasurer shall make advance payments for some or all of periodic local reimbursement or assistance programs to any city, town, regional school district or independent agricultural and technical school that demonstrates an emergency cash shortfall, as certified by the commissioner of revenue and approved by the secretary of administration and finance, pursuant to guidelines issued by the secretary.

FY18 General Appropriations Act
Chapter 47 of the Acts of 2017
Effective: 07/17/17
The GAA includes total state spending of $39.4 billion, representing a $652 million (1.7 percent), increase over FY17 spending. This spending recommendation is based on a projected 3.4 percent increase in tax revenue for FY18.

The Department's recommended appropriations total $5.324 billion, which represents an increase of $113.5 million (2.2 percent), over FY17 spending. The GAA affirms a commitment to fund education aid for our districts but does include reduced spending to a number of the Department's accounts due to the lowered revenue forecast for FY18. In signing the budget, the Governor vetoed spending of $5.6 million in our accounts, most of which represented legislative earmarks for specific local projects. These vetoes were subsequently overridden by the Legislature.

I. Education Local Aid & Reimbursements

Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008) is increased by $118.9M (2.6 percent) over FY17. The increase is designed to allow for a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil over FY17 for every school district and provides $25 million to begin addressing the increased costs of employee and retiree health care.

GAA funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) is increased by $4 million over FY17. Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) has a $500,000 increase. The METCO grant program (7010-0012), and Charter School Tuition Reimbursements (7061-9010) are level funded. We estimate the latter will cover 100 percent reimbursement for the capital facility component of charter tuition ($893 per student) and 69.3 percent of first-year tuition increases.

Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation (7035-0007) and Transportation Reimbursement for Homeless Students (7035-0008) were reduced by $7,500 and $250,500, respectively, from FY17 levels.

II. Student Assessment

The GAA funding for the Student Assessment account (7061-9400) was insufficient to meet our planned program spending for the upcoming school year. The governor made a reserve draw to bring the account total to the $31.1 million.

III. Departmental Grant & Targeted Support Programs

The majority of our grant and targeted support programs were either level funded or reduced.

IV. DESE Administrative & Operational Resources

The GAA reduces the Department's administrative funding below our maintenance level for FY18. This reduced funding totals $756,764 in the following three accounts that fund agency staff.

Outside sections that are of significance to the Department and to elementary and secondary schools:

Section 90. Designates the Secretary of Education as Chair of the Homeless Student Transportation Commission established by Chapter 133 of the Acts of 2017.

Section 126. Requires a feasibility study to be conducted by the Executive Office of Education on minimum number of instructional hours substituted for the minimum number of days as required by the board of education. As part of the study, the executive office of education shall determine cost savings associated with an instructional hours based system including, but not limited to, energy costs, administrative costs and transportation costs.

Section 127. Requires a feasibility study to be conducted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on rural school district aid.