On March 24, 2020, Governor Baker recommended legislation that alleviates certain public school-related requirements that are impacted as a result of his March 15, 2020 emergency order temporarily closing all public and private K-12 schools in the Commonwealth. The recommended legislation also addresses the need for stability in the budget process for regional school districts.
The proposed legislation would authorize the following:
- The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to delay beyond April 1st the requirement established by the Student Opportunity Act that school districts submit three-year plans aimed at closing the achievement disparities among student groups;
- The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon the recommendation of the Commissioner, to modify or waive high school graduation competency requirements;
- The Commissioner to modify or waive MCAS assessments.
In all three instances, actions can be taken only to address disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Separately, under the proposed legislation, regional school districts may suspend the statutorily-required budget approval process for their fiscal year 2021 budget and allow DESE to certify an amount sufficient for the operation of the district until a budget can be adopted if a member city or town is not able to complete the budget process before June 30, 2020.
It is expected that if this legislation passes, it will take effect immediately.