House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North
Reading) is calling for the creation of a task force
to review all unfunded mandates the state currently imposes on public schools
and to develop recommendations for curtailing this practice.
Representative Jones offered the
proposal as an amendment during the first day of debate on the House budget for
Fiscal Year 2017. The amendment was
approved on a voice vote on April 25.
“This amendment addresses one of
the biggest concerns voiced by school officials not only in my district, but
across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Jones. “The state cannot continue to impose new
mandates on our cities and towns without providing them with the financial
resources to help fulfill those requirements.”
Under Representative Jones’ proposal, the Educational
Mandate Task Force will review all state laws, regulations and directives that impose
requirements on school districts, including mandates that require preparing and
submitting reports and data to the Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education (DESE). In addition to
identifying the total estimated costs associated with these mandates, the task
force will also be asked to develop recommendations for streamlining, consolidating
or eliminating any mandates or reporting requirements that are outdated,
duplicative or unnecessary.
Between 1995 and 2008, DESE
added 4,055 new documents and directives for educators and administrators. DESE added an additional 5,382 documents between
2009 and 2013, an average of about 3 or 4 new directives per day.
“Over the last few years, we
have seen the number of mandates handed down by the state continue to grow at
an alarming rate,” said Representative Jones.
“A thorough review of the requirements placed on school districts is long
overdue, and my hope is that this task force will help clear the way to
providing meaningful relief for our cities and towns.”
The task force will consist of 11 members and will be
co-chaired by the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on Education. The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary
Education will also serve on the task force, along with a legislator appointed
by the Senate Minority Leader and a legislator appointed by the House Minority Leader. The six remaining members will be appointed
by the Secretary of Education, and will include representatives from the Massachusetts
Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Association of School
Committees, the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials, the Massachusetts
Secondary School Administrators’ Association, the Massachusetts Elementary
School Principals’ Association, and the Massachusetts Administrators of Special
As part of its review, the task force will be required to hold at least one
public hearing. A final report
containing the task force’s findings and recommendations will be due no later
than one year after its initial meeting.
The House will continue to debate over 1300 proposed budget
amendments this week. The Senate is
expected to release its own version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget in mid-May.