Wednesday, April 1, 2009

State Education Mandates - Part 11

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 11 and the final entry in the series.

Unexpended Education Funds

Massachusetts local school districts are required, unlike as in many other states, to return, at the termination of each fiscal year, unexpended/unencumbered funds to the municipality’s general fund. This requirement is counter to stimulating incentives for school districts to find creative ways to generate savings throughout the fiscal year. Municipalities often conclude that funds, which are returned at the end of the fiscal year, is misinterpreted as evidence that the school district did not really need said funds. School districts are not permitted to establish rainy day funds.


Each year, the district must have a technology plan. An annual report must be sent to the state indicating how the district is using technology to teach, how much is being spent and what the district plans to spend in the future. There are technology benchmarks that must be met by students at each grade and all students must meet state-defined technology proficiency by the end of grade 8. The development of technology plans (incorporating professional, administrative, and community personnel), the recommended student to technology (computer) ratio, and the ratio of technology personnel recommended for districts, directly affect school budget development.

Building Maintenance

Districts have a requirement to spend a minimum amount to maintain buildings and are required to pay “union scale” otherwise know as “prevailing wage,” on projects for repairs and maintenance when done by an outside contractor. This mandate results in higher costs for many skilled trade services.

The following is a list of annual inspections and tests required by the state for maintenance of buildings:

• boiler inspections;
• air tank inspections;
• fire alarm tests;
• fire suppression tests (kitchens);
• fire extinguisher tests;
• elevator & chair lift inspections;
• under-ground tank inspections/replacements,
• drainage back-flow controls,
• stage rigging inspections;
• Integrated Pest Management Plans (use of pesticides) including community notifications;
• fire sprinkler tests; and
• Asbestos inspections.
The full listing is available here (DOC)

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