On July 31, 2019, Governor Baker signed into law the fiscal year 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which includes $2.5 million dollars for Rural School Aid (line item 7061-9813). On December 13, 2019, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 142 of the Acts of 2019 that provides an additional $1.5 million dollars for Rural School Aid and expands the criteria under the line item so that additional school districts are now eligible. The purpose of Rural School Aid is to provide funds to support district efforts to increase regional collaboration, consolidation, and other efficiencies.
Pursuant to the criteria defined in the line item and in Chapter 142, the Department identified the districts eligible for Rural School Aid based on their student density and their per capita income (less than $39,913 per capita based on 2017 Census estimates). The Department also divided the districts into three funding groups: Priority 1 (less than 11 students per square mile) and Priority 2 (greater than 11 and less than 21 students per square mile), and Priority 3 (greater than 21 and less than or equal to 35 students per square mile).
The total amount available under the line item and Chapter 142 is $3.5 million. The Department set aside $1,750,000 of the available funding for Priority 1 districts, $1,000,000 for Priority 2 districts, and $750,000 for Priority 3 districts. For all groups, we calculated the target aid amounts for each district based on their fiscal year 2020 Chapter 70 aid, summed these amounts, and gave the districts in each priority group a prorated share of their target aid totals.
The Department will distribute this funding in two equal payments. The first payment will be issued by the end of October (early February for Priority 3 districts) and the second payment will be made at the end of April. Once received, the funds should be deposited in a separate account so that they can be spent without further action on the part of the local appropriating authority by June 30, 2020. Districts will be required to report these funds as a state grant expenditure on their fiscal year 2020 End of Year Reports.
The GAA requires that all districts receiving funds under this line item also submit a plan to the Department outlining the steps the district will take to increase regional collaboration, consolidation, or other efficiencies over the next three fiscal years, 2020 to 2022. While districts can use Rural School Aid to support these activities, they are not required to do so. The Department is updating the framework for these plans and will provide districts with additional information about next steps.
Please direct all questions regarding Rural School Aid to Michelle Griffin or at 781-338-6515.
Last Updated: January 27, 2020
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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