Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding chapter 71 of the General Laws or any other general or special law or agreement to the contrary, the town of Worthington may unilaterally withdraw as a member of the Gateway Regional School District, hereinafter referred to as the district; provided, however, that the commissioner of elementary and secondary education approves the town's plans for the education of its children and the district’s plans for the education of its children. The town and the district shall submit the plans to the commissioner within 60 days of the effective date of this act. The commissioner shall issue the decisions within 60 days of submission of the plans and, in the case of disapproval, shall set forth the reasons for disapproval.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, upon withdrawal pursuant to section 1, the town of Worthington shall:
(1) pay to the district operating and capital costs under section IX of the Agreement Among the Towns Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, Russell, Worthington, Chester and Blandford, Massachusetts with respect to the formation of a Regional School District, hereinafter referred to as the agreement; and
(2) be obligated to pay any repayment amounts due to the Massachusetts School Building Authority under section IX(E) of the agreement, unless or until the amounts have been repaid for all of the buildings or the Massachusetts School Building Authority no longer requires repayment for the buildings.
SECTION 3. The effective date of the town’s withdrawal from the district shall be determined under 603 CMR 41.03(2)(a).
SECTION 4. Upon written notification from the district that the town of Worthington is withdrawing from the district, the department of elementary and secondary education shall convene a reorganization needs conference as provided in 603 CMR 41.02 to initiate a long range education plan to determine: (i) the impacts of the withdrawal; (ii) the impacts of the withdrawal on current and future enrollment in the district; (iii) an inventory of all educational facilities under the jurisdiction of the remaining communities in the district; (iv) plans for the reimbursement of the commonwealth’s capital expenditures for facilities located in the town of Worthington; (v) the requirements for continued assessments to the town of Worthington for district facilities previously paid by the town of Worthington; (vi) the administrative structure of the new district; (vii) the long-term fiscal impacts of the withdrawal of the town of Worthington, including detailed analyses of transportation, special education, vocational education and personnel costs; and (viii) fiscal recommendations to hold harmless the remaining communities. The long range education plan shall include consideration of compliance with state and federal law and the potential for enhancing learning opportunities and student performance for all students in the remaining communities in the district. The reorganization needs conference and long range education planning process shall include participation by all remaining communities in the district, including select boards, finance boards, school committees, school administrators and residents of the communities. Upon completion of the reorganization needs conference and the long range education plan, the department shall file a report of its findings with the senators and representatives of the general court that represent the members of the district and the remaining communities of the district, including recommendations for enhanced funding options for the remaining communities to maintain access to quality education for grades K-12.
Approved, May 7, 2014.