State law in Massachusetts lets local faculties, consisting of nearby vocational-technical colleges, set up a Stabilization Fund for capital initiatives. The governing statute is Massachusetts General Laws c.Seventy-one, §sixteen G½. Not all regional colleges have tried to create this kind of Stabilization Fund. This article is written to help folks who desire to try. From my experience, the procedure is easy; however, it also can be long and irritating.
Here are the fundamental steps to observe:
1. Educate Yourself. Read the law. Talk to others who’ve long gone through the method. Ask questions. Contact me. Reach out to your expert affiliation. The Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS) and Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) are excellent sources. Talk together with your School Business Manager to ensure the two of you’re united in this. You want to march collectively. Ensure that everybody is aware of, proper from the very start, that it isn’t always easy to apply cash from the Stabilization Fund. Any cash placed into the Stabilization Fund may want only to be used for capital initiatives and will best be used by a vote of two-thirds of the local School Committee. It is not a piggy bank to be opened at will via the School Business Manager or Superintendent
2. Educate Your School Committee. If you’ve got a Finance or Budget Subcommittee, that might be a pleasant area to begin. Talk with the Subcommittee chair first to make sure there is the least standard aid for the concept. Then deliver it to the entire Subcommittee. Make a presentation. Let them ask questions till they cannot think about any extra. (The questions are the same ones you may pay attention to from city and town officials later.) Once you have a strong consensus at the Subcommittee, ask that organization to advise the whole School Committee.
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3. Seek a Vote from Your School Committee. Once you’ve got a guide from the Subcommittee handling cash topics, place the item on the Agenda for the entire School Committee. In the assembly bundle, encompass a memo outlining the reasons why you’re seeking to establish a Stabilization Fund. In the memo, cope with any main worries that have been raised at the Subcommittee stage. Remember that it is noticeably possible that your memo will locate its manner into the palms of Mayors and Selectmen for your district. Make positive its miles strictly real. Make certain all later correspondence in your member communities makes use of the equal or very comparable language.
4. Notify Your Member Communities of the Vote. After your School Committee takes a vote to set up a Stabilization Fund, the fun is just beginning. Now you need to mobilize assist in a majority of your member communities. If you have nine member groups, you want positive votes from five of them. If you’ve got 18 member groups as I did, you want an effective vote from 10 of them. The first step is to notify the Boards of Selectmen and City Councils for your district of your School Committee’s vote. Make positive Mayors, and Town Managers are notified, too.
Here’s a part of the letter we despatched to our 18 member groups:
“On January 2, 2013, the District School Committee at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School voted to set up a Stabilization Fund according to with the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws c.Seventy-one, §sixteen G½. The law requires that district communities be notified and vote to approve the motion with the aid of the School Committee. The Monty Tech School Committee requests that an editorial is located on an upcoming Town Meeting Warrant/City Council Agenda in search of approval to set up the Stabilization Fund.
We suggest the subsequent wording:
The Town/City of the vote to approve the status quo of a Stabilization Fund consistent with Massachusetts General Laws c.Seventy-one, §sixteen G½ for the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District.
5. Educate Your Member Communities. Use the letter to member communities as a possibility to explain why you’re making your request.
We introduced this:
“Stabilization Funds are commonplace in the course of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and inside the towns and cities during our location. Most, if no longer all, of our 18 district groups have applied Stabilization Funds for decades. Monty Tech needs to set up a Stabilization Fund to assist cope with its many capital needs. As you may realize, the district continues and regularly updates a Five-Year Capital Plan, which identifies our faculty district’s principal structural and system needs. While we do our very exceptional to maintain faculty facilities and devices up to date and stretch each dollar by using the school and pupil labor, we’ve found that the price range allotted for capital projects in our annual finances is insufficient to meet the district’s wishes.
We accept as true with that putting in a Stabilization Fund is fiscally prudent.”
6. Expect Questions, Rejection, and Delays. The faculty district is made from 18 member groups, consisting of two towns and 16 towns. In many communities, we have been invited to speak to the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Financial Advisory Board, or City Council. In others, we heard nothing. In the one’s instances, I bet our letter explaining the Stabilization Fund changed into sufficient. The elected officials in the one’s communities voted to place the matter at the Town Meeting Warrant. In 5 of the Towns, but not anything came about in any respect. They either deliberately left the matter of the Town Meeting Warrant – or in reality, forgot to position it on. In one network, we entertained a protracted series of questions, and I observed up with a letter, in addition, clarifying our function.
7. Expect Some Unfair Questions and Comments. During our meetings, we heard numerous unfair questions, some of which appeared designed genuinely to get us upset. They never did. But you want to be ready. The period of this text prevents me from going into incredible elements. Still, the questions fell into five most important classes: the capability length of the Stabilization Fund, concerns about unmet capital desires at municipal college districts, claims that approving a Stabilization Fund might mechanically bring about accelerated checks to member communities, suggestions that a Stabilization Fund is something “new” or “special,” and claims that the vocational school appeared so suitable it didn’t want any capital upgrades. Finally, we heard the terribly unfair and inflammatory phrase “slush fund” tossed around more than as soon as. Be prepared to cope with those problems. By analyzing the regulation and noting the severe boundaries located on the use of a Stabilization Fund, you must be prepared.
8. Don’t Give Up. When we commenced the approval technique at Monty Tech, the very first vote from a community was a rejection. To make topics worse, the vote becomes unanimous. And it turned into from our 2nd biggest network. The Budget Subcommittee Chair and School Business Manager took the defeat badly. I became disillusioned with a path but knew that we had 17 different probabilities of getting 10 votes in our desire. In every other network, we confirmed up for a Town Meeting on a Saturday morning to discover that the Finance Committee had voted no longer to advisor approval. Again, I turned upset however not defeated. When allowed to speak to Town Meeting, I thanked the townspeople for always assisting our school and reminded them that their Town had a Stabilization Fund. Their municipal faculty district had the danger to tap every so often. We failed to. In the cease, Town Meeting voted solidly in our desire, over the objections of the city’s Finance Committee.
9. Celebrate Your Success. In our case, the School Committee voted 17-1 to set up a Stabilization Fund. That vote came about on January 2, 2013. Our 9th and 10th high-quality votes from member communities were secured – separated in time by just or three minutes on the night of June 18, 2013. We did not exactly pop open any champagne, but we did congratulate one another on reaching the achievement. We noticed it as any other small step to improve our potential to respond speedily to small- or medium-length capital desires in our school. It’s a small step that you, too, can take with some planning and a little work.
10. Spread the News and Help Others. Though now not required by using the statute, we notified the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of the vote taken with the aid of our School Committee and the names of the 10 communities that supported us, and the dates they forged those votes. I also testified in Boston on an invoice that could simplify how Stabilization Funds are created and responded to questions from one or two other districts seeking to set up a Stabilization Fund.
Steven C. Sharek is a veteran school administrator. He has served as an Assistant Dean of Academic Services at Southern New England School of Law (now UMass School of Law – Dartmouth), as a Superintendent-Director at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, and as a Cluster Coordinator and Communications/Grants Manager at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. He holds a B.A. In English, Master in Education, and Juris Doctor. He has been an active member of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA).