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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Co-Sponsors Legislation Expanding Resources for Public Schools
March 19, 2007

BOSTON - State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D – Pittsfield) today announces his co-sponsorship of late-file legislation authored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D – Uxbridge) expanding resources for academic and cultural enrichment opportunities for students in school districts with scarce resources. 

 

“An Act to Encourage Private Support for Public Schools,” filed this week by Moore, Downing and other Senate colleagues, creates the Massachusetts Public Education Endowment Incentive Contribution Program which provides matching state funds to boost incentives for donating and to maximize voluntary contributions to public education.  Types of donations eligible for a state match are limited to an endowment for academic purposes such as scholarships, technology, advance placement courses, remedial courses, professional development, cultural enrichment, the arts, field trips, visiting lecturers, machinery for vocational training, library materials, and endowed faculty positions approved by the appropriate school district, regional school district, or regional vocation school district committee.  A total district cap is included in order to level the eligibility for school districts of various financial means across the Commonwealth.

 

“Our public schools often have to make tough decisions at budget time which impacts the number of activities students are able to participate in each and every year.  This legislation is an innovative idea which may increase access to funding and allow our public schools to offer more expansive academic and extracurricular enrichment for students,” explained Downing. 

 

Because this legislation is considered a “late-file” it must first be admitted by both the Senate and House of Representatives before it can be assigned a bill number and referred to a legislative Committee for consideration.

Full Text of “An Act to Encourage Private Support for Public Schools”

 

Section 1E of chapter 15 of the general laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended, by inserting at the end thereof, the following:

 

     It is hereby declared to be the policy of the commonwealth to encourage private fundraising by educational foundations organized by public school districts, including regional school districts and regional vocational school districts of Massachusetts and to assist fundraising through a matching program to be known as the public education endowment incentive contribution program which shall not result in direct or indirect reductions in the commonwealth's appropriations to the school districts for operations or for capital support.

 

     Subject to appropriation, the commonwealth shall contribute funds to each school district's recognized foundation in an amount necessary to match private contributions in the current fiscal year to the school district foundation’s endowment program based on the following matching formula: subject to appropriation, the commonwealth's contribution shall be equal to $1 for every $2, or $1 for the greater number of dollars or current dollar value of in-kind donations established by the board of education, privately contributed to the school district’s foundation; provided, that the maximum total contributions from the commonwealth shall be $50,000,000.

 

     Private contributions to the endowment program for purposes of these matching grant programs shall be limited to donations to an endowment for academic purposes including, but not limited to, scholarships, technology, advance placement courses, remedial courses, professional development, cultural enrichment, the arts, field trips, visiting lecturers, machinery for vocational training, library materials, and endowed faculty positions approved by the appropriate school district, regional school district, or regional vocational school district committee.  User fees paid by students or parents shall not be considered private donations for purposes of this section.

 

     The program shall terminate for any school district when its foundation has received $500,000 in appropriated matching funds according to the formula prescribed above, or on July 1, 2020, whichever is sooner. 

 

     For each school district, regional school district, or regional vocational school district, the program shall be administered by its foundation, as defined in section 37, in accordance with procedures established by the board of education and filed with the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance no later than 30 days from the time of adoption.  Any further amendments to the procedures shall also be filed within 30 days of adoption with the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance.  The procedures shall include a method for the board of education to certify to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance the actual amount received in private contributions to the endowment program in each fiscal year.  The procedures shall also include safeguards for protecting the anonymity of donors who indicate their desire not to be identified.

 

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