State budget officials notified cities and towns on Sept. 10 that Cherry Sheet amounts for the third month of fiscal 2021 will be updated from the monthly amounts paid and assessed in July and August.

The changes could affect financial projections in some municipalities and school districts.

Cherry Sheet amounts through the first quarter will reflect normal adjustments as well as special changes due to interim funding and policy agreements reached by the governor and the Legislature in advance of a final fiscal 2021 budget, which has been delayed due to uncertainty about the fiscal impact of the coronavirus recession.

Receipts paid in September will reflect the minimum amounts for Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70 school aid announced at the end of July, when the governor and Legislature committed to no less than level funding of UGGA and Chapter 70 for fiscal 2021 for each community. The amounts for other receipt programs will continue to be based on fiscal 2020 Cherry Sheet estimates (or actual fiscal 2020 amounts for charter school reimbursements and school choice payments) as announced by the Division of Local Services in June (Bulletin-2020-09).

The focus of the notice sent by Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan (see full text below) was on assessments that would be updated to reflect projected fiscal 2021 assessments (rather than the fiscal 2020 estimates used for July and August).

The new assessments for charter school tuition payments will reflect normal changes due to enrollment updates as well as significant changes because Chapter 70 school aid formula changes consistent with the Student Opportunity Act – as proposed by the governor in his budget bill filed in January (H. 2) – are not expected to be fully implemented when the fiscal 2021 budget is finally enacted.

Charter school enrollment increases in the September adjustments will tend to increase tuition assessments, while the change in expectations for Chapter 70 foundation budget spending standards could reduce assessments to less than the amounts from January.

The charter school tuition updates are based on new projections from the Department on Elementary and Secondary Education released on Sept. 14.

Here’s the notice Secretary Heffernan sent to local officials on Sept. 10:

Update on FY2021 Local Aid Distributions and Assessments
Dear Local Official,
I am writing to share that the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Local Aid distributions will be updated to reflect the recently announced Chapter 70 and UGGA floors and updated Assessments. As you are aware, the July and August local aid distributions reflected level-funding of both Local Aid and Assessments. Beginning with the September monthly local aid distribution, Assessments will be updated to reflect projected FY21 assessment levels. As you are familiar with, some of these programs, specifically School Choice, Charter Tuition, and Special Education assessments will be updated as data becomes available. Click here to view the projected FY21 assessments for your community or here for your regional school.

If you have questions about the local aid distributions or these assessments, please contact the Division of Local Services at databank@dor.state.ma.us.

Sincerely,
Michael J. Heffernan
Secretary
Administration and Finance

Written by