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School Choice in
Massachusetts: How It Works
Roger Hatch, ESE School Finance Administrator
School Choice Webinar
April 8, 2016
Main Topics of This Webinar
Trends since 1991
School choice timeline
How do you fill out school choice claim form?
We will briefly describe first few steps of the
“school choice sped increment workbook”
• Common questions
• Myths and Misunderstanding
• Where to go for questions or advice?
School Choice Enrollment Is Growing Steadily
Interdistrict School Choice
• School choice law c76 s12 passed in 1991. 32
districts participated in FY92.
• Of 325 operating districts in FY16, 187 accept
choice pupils
• Tuition rate is 75% of receiving district per
pupil expenditure for regular ed pupils, capped
at $5000. All districts are now at the $5,000
cap. Special ed increments are added to the
$5000 rate. State average rate is $6,007.
• Intra district school choice is a local program
School Choice Timeline: FY16
• It’s a 2 ½ year cycle for choice kids enrolled
during FY16
During FY15
Jan 2015: “cherry sheet” estimates based upon Oct 1
enrollment (ESE and DLS)
Spring 2015: school committee vote for FY16 new students
(notify ESE)
Spring 2015; school committee holds lottery if competition for
June 2015: DLS posts final FY16 cherry sheets
School Choice Timeline: FY16
During FY16
DLS: assesses and pays one twelfth of latest estimate of annual tuition as part of
monthly local aid distributions
District: Reports choice kids in DOE011 (03) and DOE13 (02) in October SIMS
ESE publishes Oct 1 2015 choice rosters for sending and receiving districts in midDecember on school choice dropbox, also annualized tuition estimates on school
finance website, reflecting estimated sped costs for choice pupils with iep’s
ESE: posts spring claim forms and sped increment forms at end of March
District: Downloads April claim form from choice dropbox, sped increment form
from school choice adminisration website, completes and submits forms to
ESE: May 2015: posts preliminary FY16 tuition and enrollment based upon April
claim forms, for districts with accepted data, in mid-May
ESE: June 2016: posts final FY16 tuition and enrollment based upon all spring
DLS: reconciles final FY16 tuition and assessments during May and June
School Choice Timeline FY16
During FY17
• District checks rosters and follows up on any
errors: confirm with the other district; report
to ESE
• ESE: will adjust any FY16 errors during FY17,
up until June 2017
School Choice Claim Form
ESE posts Oct 1 rosters in December in school choice dropbox, for both
receiving and sending districts. Districts should review rosters
immediately, and contact ESE if any errors. The December rosters
(“16choicerec****.xls” or 16choicesend****.xls) are NOT the spring
claim forms.
ESE posts Oct 1 claim forms for receiving districts (16choice****.xls) at
end of March in school choice dropbox, reflecting any changes submitted
by districts after looking at December rosters.
District staff obtain sped increments from sped increment form to be
completed by sped office staff trained in circuit breaker methodology
Districts should finalize claim forms (16choice****.xls or xlsm), making
changes to addresses, start/leave dates, new enrollments, choice pupils
becoming residents, special ed increments, sped transportation costs, by
end of April.
Upload “16choice****.xls or xlsm to school choice dropbox.
ESE Security Portal: Drop Box Central
School Choice Claim Form Dropbox
Posted by
Changes/Corrections to Submitted Claims
• Try to get it right on initial submission
• Changes preferred by email to
[email protected]
• ESE Rule: do not put a student’s name and
sasid in an email. One or the other ok.
• New students: either two separate emails or
else newly submitted file, making it clear who
the new students are (bottom of the file with
comments at far right)
Common Questions
Can sending district see sped increment form? Yes, upon request.
Can siblings be given preference in lottery? Yes, if there are openings.
Can choice pupils be out-placed? Yes.
Can a resident student who moves out of town mid-year be converted to
choice? Only if the district has “open choice” (no lottery).
What are “MAVA” and “TECCA”? Mass. Virtual Academy, and TEC
Connections Virtual School. Sending districts charged a rate of $6,700
Where do I find the school choice regulations? There is a school choice
law (c76 s12b) but there are no school choice regulations.
How to handle split custody? Adjust start/leave dates, add extra record if
both towns are out of the district.
Can a pupil choice in to free FDK if home district doesn’t offer it? Yes.
Who receives Chapter 70 aid for choice pupils? Sending district.
Sped Increment Form: Three Tips
• Person filling out the form should have
attended circuit breaker training
• After downloading either the 2003 or 2010
Excel template from the school choice website,
go to the drop-down box in cell d4 and select
your district’s name
• To enter a student sasid use the “New
Student” (2003) or “Add A New Student”
(2010) buttons
Myths and Misinformation About Choice
• Sending district has to vote to agree to pay (Not true)
• Teachers’ non-resident children get preference in lottery (not
• March SIMS is used to adjust for choice mid-year (not true)
• Homeless children can be counted as choice (not true)