Advocates Mark Win for Voc-Tech Schools
Above, Governor Baker at Tri-County Regional Vocational photographed in October.
A little-noticed provision in the state’s new Economic Development Law may help some regional vocational-technical high schools in Massachusetts address their long waitlists. The provision was supported by the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA), a statewide professional association that advocates for high-quality vocational-technical and agricultural education in Massachusetts.
On November 10, 2022, Governor Charles D. Baker signed the provision into law as part of Chapter 268 of the Acts of 2022, An Act Relating to Economic Growth and Relief for The Commonwealth. Among other things, the $3.76 billion spending package included funding for a host of economic development initiatives across Massachusetts.
Also included in the massive bill was language proposed by MAVA and the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education (AVTE) to expand the authority of regional school committees, including regional vocational-technical school committees, to enter into long-term leases for educational purposes. The new law allows such leases for up to 25 years. The old law limited such leases to 5 years. The long-term leasing provision, which amends Section 16 of Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws, can be found in Section 109 of Chapter 268:
The change is designed to allow regional schools located near vacant commercial or industrial real estate to enter into a long-term lease for space and use it to create more seats for students seeking a vocational-technical education. The long-term leasing idea is not a replacement for vocational-technical expansion projects funded by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), but it gives regional schools a new option to consider.
“Over the past few years, our schools have experienced a tremendous increase in demand for high quality career and technical education,” said Steven C. Sharek, Executive Director of MAVA. “This demand has resulted in unprecedented waitlists, as many schools do not have the space or time to seek MSBA capital funds for expansion and cannot responsibly commit resources to building out satellite space under a short five-year lease. We hope this provision will change that and provide a new tool to help open up more seats for students seeking vocational-technical education.” [Ed. Note; Franklin's Tri-County Regional Vocational School regularly has students waitlisted each year.]
Passage of the leasing provision was the culmination of many months of hard work by MAVA, its members, and its advocates on Beacon Hill. MAVA hopes that the new law will have a positive impact on schools and students across the Commonwealth.