Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Jason M. Lewis, Senate Chair
The Honorable Alice Hanlon Peisch, House Chair
Joint Committee on Education
State House, Boston
Dear Senator Lewis, Representative Peisch, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,
On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to support House 551, an Act Relative to Transparency and Accountability in Charter School Finance. This bill would bring long-overdue accountability to charter school finance and provide a measure of relief to local public schools.
The diversion of Chapter 70 school aid from local public schools to pay tuition to charter schools has imposed a major and growing financial burden on cities and towns, a problem made more acute as the state has granted more charters and existing charter schools expand. The fiscal drain on cities, towns and school districts has led to fewer programs for the vast majority of students who remain in the local public school setting. This issue is impacting a large number of communities, including some of the state’s most financially distressed cities and towns.
House 551 would cap the assessment on cities, towns and regional school districts that is used to finance charter school tuition payments. It would not change how tuition payments are calculated for individual charter schools, and would not reduce the total tuition payments that charters receive. The bill would set a maximum local contribution to charter schools and provide for state payment of the balance, subject to appropriation. The bill would not change the statute governing reimbursements.
This proposal would mitigate some of the harm done to local public schools by the current system. The preliminary numbers for fiscal 2022 show that the charter school assessments placed on cities and towns are expected to increase by $92.8 million, and will reach $810 million. This transfer of public funds happens completely off-budget. There is no appropriation to charter schools in either the state budget or in local budgets. Instead, $810 million is deducted from the Chapter 70 aid distribution to impacted cities and towns, and is transferred directly to the respective charter schools without a hearing and without any review or approval by local residents or the Legislature. It is a system that lacks any true transparency or accountability.
This important bill would create a more transparent and sustainable system, and ensure that all students, regardless of whether they are in regular public schools or charter schools, will have the opportunities and programs they deserve. We respectfully urge you to support House 551.
Please contact us at any time if you have any questions or need additional information by having your office reach out to me or Senior Legislative Analyst Jackie Lavender Bird at 617-426-7272, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Thank you again for your distinguished record of support, dedication and commitment to the cities, towns and public schools of Massachusetts.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO