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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 16: Regional school districts; status; powers and duties

Section 16. A regional school district established under the provisions of the preceding section shall be a body politic and corporate with all the powers and duties conferred by law upon school committees, and with the following additional powers and duties:

(a) To adopt a name and a corporate seal, and the engraved or printed facsimile of such seal on a bond or note of the district shall have the same validity and effect as though such seal were impressed thereon.

(b) To sue and be sued, but only to the same extent and upon the same conditions that a town may sue or be sued.

(c) To acquire property within the towns comprising the district under the provisions of chapter seventy-nine and section fourteen of chapter forty for the purposes of the district and to construct, reconstruct, add to, remodel, make extraordinary repairs to, equip, organize and operate a school or schools for the benefit of the towns comprising the district, and to make any necessary contracts in relation thereto; provided, however, that no property shall be acquired unless the town in which such property is located approves such acquisition by a two-thirds vote at a town meeting which shall be called within sixty days after the district committee authorizes the incurring of debt for such purpose.

(d) To incur debt for the purpose of acquiring land and constructing, reconstructing, adding to and equipping a school building or for the purpose of remodeling and making extraordinary repairs to a school building and for the construction of sewerage systems and sewerage treatment and disposal facilities, or for the purchase or use of such systems with municipalities, and for the purpose of purchasing department equipment; or for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing or making improvements to outdoor playground, athletic or recreational facilities; or for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing or resurfacing roadways and parking lots; or for the purpose of any other public work or improvement of a permanent nature required by the district; or for the purpose of any planning, architectural or engineering costs relating to any of the above purposes; provided, however, that written notice of the amount of the debt and of the general purposes for which it was authorized shall be given to the board of selectmen in each of the towns comprising the district not later than 7 days after the date on which the debt was authorized by the district committee; provided further, that no debt may be incurred until the expiration of 60 days after the date on which the debt was authorized; and provided further, that before the expiration of this period any member town of the regional school district may hold a town meeting for the purpose of expressing disapproval of the amount of debt authorized by the district committee, and if at that meeting a majority of the voters present and voting express disapproval of the amount authorized by the district committee, the debt shall not be incurred and the district school committee shall prepare another proposal which may be the same as any prior proposal and an authorization to incur debt therefor. Debt incurred under this section shall be payable within 30 years, but no such debt shall be issued for a period longer than the maximum useful life of the project being financed as determined in accordance with guidelines established by the director of accounts pursuant to section 38 of chapter 44.

In the case of a vocational regional school district, if the district agreement so provides or is amended to so provide, such debt may also be incurred if two thirds of the member towns do not vote disapproval within said sixty day period provided that said towns which have not voted disapproval agree, within ninety days of the date on which said debt was authorized, to pay the total bond indebtedness authorized by the district committee without contribution by the member towns which voted disapproval of the amount of said debt. The member towns of such vocational regional school district which have voted disapproval of the new indebtedness shall have the right to retain their membership in the school district as provided in their district agreement except that they shall not be allowed any added enrollment that might result solely from the expansion of facilities that occurs on account of said new indebtedness.

(e) To issue bonds and notes in the name and upon the full faith and credit of said district; said bonds or notes shall be signed by the chairman and treasurer of the district committee, except that said chairman by a writing bearing his written signature and filed in the office of said treasurer, which writing shall be open to public inspection, may authorize said treasurer to cause to be engraved or printed on said bonds or notes a facsimile of said chairman's signature, and such facsimile so engraved or printed shall have the same validity and effect as said chairman's written signature, and each issue of bonds or notes shall be a separate loan.

(f) To receive and disburse funds for any district purpose.

(g) To incur temporary debt in anticipation of revenue to be received from any source. This clause shall also apply to all regional school districts established under the provisions of special laws.

(h) To assess member towns for any expenses of the district.

(i) To receive any grants or gifts for the purposes of the regional district school or schools.

(j) To engage legal counsel.

(k) To submit an annual report to each of the member towns, containing a detailed financial statement, and a statement showing the method by which the annual charges assessed against each town were computed, together with such additional information relating to the operation and maintenance of such school or schools as may be deemed necessary by the district school committee or by the selectmen of any member town.

(l) To employ a superintendent of schools who may also be a superintendent of one or more of the towns comprising said district and to establish an employment contract for a period of time to provide for the salary, fringe benefits, and other conditions of employment, including but not limited to, severance pay, relocation expenses, reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of duties of office, liability insurance, and leave for said superintendent, and said superintendent shall have all the powers and duties imposed upon school superintendents by law.

(m) To adopt an annual operating and maintenance budget for the next fiscal year not later than forty-five days prior to the earliest date on which the business session of the annual town meeting of any member town is to be held, but not later than March thirty-first, provided that said budget need not be adopted prior to February first; provided, further, that a superintendent may, with the approval of a majority of the member communities, submit said budget for approval following the notification of the annual local aid distribution, so-called.

(n) To incur debt for the purposes and terms specified in clause (d); provided that the vote of the district committee authorizing such debt is approved by a majority of the registered voters in the member towns voting on the question at an election called and held pursuant to the following provisions. The election shall be called by a warrant addressed to the registered voters in the member towns and signed by a majority of the members of the district committee which shall set forth the date of the election, the polling place or places in each town, the hours during which the polls are to be open and the question which is to appear upon the ballot. Notice of the election shall be given by posting a copy of the warrant attested by the secretary of the committee in at least one public place in each town and by publishing a copy thereof at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the district, said posting and publishing to occur at least ten days before said election. A certificate of the secretary shall be conclusive evidence that the warrant was duly posted and published. The number and location of the polling place, or places, in each town shall be determined by the district committee after consultation with the selectmen thereof; and the hours during which all the polls in the district are open shall be uniform throughout the district and shall be not less than four nor more than eight consecutive hours. The district committee shall be responsible for preparing the ballots used at the election. The town clerk of each town shall certify the results of the election to the district committee. Except as provided herein the election shall be conducted in each town in the same manner as town meetings for the election of town officers. The expenses of the election shall be paid by the regional school district as an operating expense of the district; and if provision for their payment is not included in the budget for the year in which they are incurred, the district committee may use any available funds of the district or may transfer the sums required from appropriations included in the budget. The defeat of a proposal for incurring debt shall not prevent the resubmission of the same proposal as a new authorization.

(o) To refinance any debt incurred under paragraphs (d), (e), or (n), in accordance with the provisions of section 21A of chapter 44.

(p) To lease, or lease with an option to purchase, equipment for educational purposes. Such leases may be made for periods not exceeding five years.

(q) To lease land and buildings for educational purposes. Such leases may be made for periods not exceeding 25 years.

(r) To rent or lease with the approval of the commissioner of education surplus space in a school building of the district to house public or private profit-making businesses or nonprofit organizations; provided, however, that if said school building is in actual use such joint occupancy shall not interfere with education programs being conducted therein; and provided, further, that if said school building is not in actual use, such lease must be approved by the city or town in which the said building is located. Such leases may be made for periods not exceeding ten years. The monies received from such rental or lease shall be kept separate and apart from other funds in the district treasury by the district treasurer, and the principal and interest thereon may be expended without further appropriation by the regional school district committee for the upkeep of the facility in which such surplus space is located; provided, however, that any balance remaining in such account at the close of a fiscal year shall be paid into the excess and deficiency fund, so called, of the regional school district as unencumbered funds and expended as provided in section sixteen B1/2.