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Administration and Finance

Circuit Breaker Program

The Commonwealth Special Education Reimbursement Program, commonly known as the Circuit Breaker Program, provides financial assistance to public school districts to offset the cost of delivering high-cost special education services to students. Since implementation in fiscal year 2004, the program has provided more than $4.8 billion to districts across the Commonwealth.

Program Resources and Guidance

Annual Claim Periods

Districts are invited to submit claims during two annual claim periods: Year-End claims and Extraordinary Relief.

Further description of these claim cycles and their summary timelines, please see: Circuit Breaker Annual Claim Cycle

Service Costs Eligible for Reimbursement

Circuit breaker reimbursement is provided based on costs paid by districts for qualified special education tuition & instruction services and for associated transportation to out-of-district programs. Pricing is set by state and other public entities outside of the Circuit Breaker program. Those costs include private program tuition rates, individually authorized student program rates, collaborative tuition rates, in-district service rates and transportation costs.

Visit the Cost of Services Eligible for Circuit Breaker Claiming page for additional information.

Reimbursement Amounts

Qualified expenses must exceed an annual per-student approved cost threshold to be eligible for reimbursement.

For information regarding the claim threshold and reimbursement rates, please see: Circuit Breaker Threshold and Reimbursement Rates

For information regarding reimbursement amounts paid to districts, please see: Circuit Breaker Payments

Private School Calendars

Each of the private special education program approved by the Office of Approved Special Education Schools (OASES) with rates set by the Operational Services Division (OSD) must provide a school calendar describing the program's operating dates in order to facilitate Circuit Breaker claims.

Private school programs directors are notified when calendar templates are available, generally in early July. The template file should be completed and returned by the August due date. For more information regarding school calendars, please see: Private School Calendars

Additional Assistance

Districts are encouraged to contact the Circuit Breaker team liaison assigned to your district with questions about expense eligibility or the process for submitting claims. Other general questions can be sent to or directed to Circuit Breaker resources in the Office of District and School Finance.

Last Updated: May 7, 2024

Contact Us

School Business Services, District & School Finance
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Circuit Breaker Contact Information

Circuit Breaker Liaison

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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