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School bond and tax elections in Massachusetts

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School bond and tax elections in Massachusetts are not required under state law. All bond issues and funding requests for capital improvements are handled by the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the Massachusetts School Building Assistance Program.

Laws affecting school finance

Massachusetts School Building Authority

Under Massachusetts law, all school districts are required to seek approval from the Massachusetts School Building Authority in order to seek any bonding or state and federal aid to fund projects. The Authority was approved by the Massachusetts General Court in 2004. Under the Massachusetts law, the Authority has all oversight and administration of the Massachusetts School Building Assistance Program.[1]

In order for a school district to seek any funding for capital improvements, they must file a series of documents with the Authority.[2] It is up to the commission to determine what type of funding a school district is eligible for. The Authority also sets in law which projects are and are not appropriate for school districts seeking any aid. [3]

Massachusetts School Building Assistance Program

The Massachusetts School Building Assistance Program is the central program for all school districts in Massachusetts seeking funding for capital improvements.[4] Massachusetts requires school districts to seek state government approval before issuing bonding or seeking state or federal funding.

The Building Assistance Program for Massachusetts schools is limited in how much funding they can award to school districts as there is a state mandated limit. For fiscal year 2009, the limit was $500 million the base limit set for fiscal year 2008 plus either the percentage growth in dedicated sales tax revenue or 4.5 percent; whichever of the two numbers is the lowest is what gets added onto the base $500 million dollar limit.[5]

School districts seeking funding through the building assistance program are required to find every possible way to make their projects as cost-efficient as possible. The Authority sets maximum cost standards for school districts entering into agreements with suppliers to contract for any part of the proposed project.[6] When considering the costs for a project, the Board compares the cost to similar projects done in the past to determine what can be cost-effective.[7] Also, school districts are required to look at environmental, transportation, and social factors when acquiring sites. School districts are required to pick a site that will cause the least impact to the environment, nearby residents and business, and transportation.[6]

The Authority sets priority order on which school districts are in line to be recipients of such aid. Priority is given to school districts that have unsustainable buildings, severe overcrowding, those in need to maintain state, regional, and national accreditation, controlling projected increased enrollments, to improve heating and cooling systems, or to be in compliance with a state or federal court order.[8]

A formula is used for determining if a school district is eligible for receiving aid. The formula is calculated by Base Percentage (A) + Community Income Factor (B1) + Community Property Wealth Factor (B2) + Community Poverty Factor (B3) + Incentive Percentage (C).[9] The sum of these factors equal the final result. Part (A) of the formula is the base percentage is 31 percentage points. Parts (B1) to (B3) are called the ablity to pay factor.[10] The community income factor takes into account the community's per-capita income while the community wealth factor takes the equalized property value per capita for a community. The third ability to pay factor is the Community Poverty Factor takes the proportion of low income students eligible for the federal lunch program in comparison to the number of low income students statewide.[11] Factor C is incentive percentage which adds incentive points for school districts. These points are awarded for school districts achieving racial balance as part of the overall project goals.[12]

The Authority on a case by case basis can take into account alternative projects to new construction or renovation when approving a school district's application for state funding.[13]

All projects that are approved by the Authority are required to go through mandatory oversight, this means all contracts, construction records, and building components records are kept on file. Also, all facilities are required to undergo mandatory inspections. The oversight is necessary to rate the effectiveness of projects in order to plan for similar projects that may come in the future.[14]

See also

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References

  1. letter size with 11.08 and 10.09 revisions current as of 10.16(5).pdf "Massachusetts School Building Authority" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute 2.01(3))
  2. letter size with 11.08 and 10.09 revisions current as of 10.16(5).pdf "Massachusetts School Building Authority" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute 2.02(A))
  3. letter size with 11.08 and 10.09 revisions current as of 10.16(5).pdf "Massachusetts School Building Authority" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute 2.02(B))
  4. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-3 MGL)
  5. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-7 MGL)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-9(a) MGL)
  7. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-9(b) MGL)
  8. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-8(1-8) MGL)
  9. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-10(a) MGL)
  10. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-10(A) MGL)
  11. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-10(B)(3) MGL)
  12. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-10(C) MGL)
  13. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-14 MGL)
  14. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" Massachusetts Education Law(Referenced Statute Title XIII, Section 70B-16 MGL)