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Role of the School Committee in finance

The Massachusetts General Laws lay out a number of responsibilities for the School Committee in district finance. Subsequent Department of Revenue opinions issued since the 1993 Education Reform Act have reaffirmed these authorities.

The school committee in each city and town and each regional school district: shall have the power to select and to terminate the superintendent, shall review and approve budgets for public education in the district, and shall establish educational goals and policies for the schools in the district consistent with the requirements of law and statewide goals and standards established by the board of education. MGL ch. 71, sec.37

The vote of the legislative body of a city or town shall establish the total appropriation for the support of the public schools, but may not limit the authority of the school committee to determine expenditures within the total appropriation. MGL Ch.71, sec.34

In the case of school employees, the municipal employer shall be represented by the school committee or its designated representative or representatives. MGL Ch.150E, Sec.1

The selectmen and all boards, committees, heads of departments and officers authorized to expend money shall approve and transmit to the town accountant as often as once each month all bills, drafts, orders and pay rolls chargeable to the respective appropriations of which they have the expenditure. MGL Ch.41, Sec.56

Such approval shall be given only after an examination to determine that the charges are correct and that the goods, materials or services charged for were ordered and that such goods and materials were delivered and that the services were actually rendered to or for the town as the case may be. MGL Ch.41, Sec.41

The school committee of each city, town or regional school district shall hold a public hearing on its proposed annual budget not less than seven days after publication of a notice thereof in a newspaper having general circulation in such city, town or district. MGL Ch.71, Sec.38N 

Per DOR opinion 93-983, The School Committee remains the head of the school department for the purposes of approving bills and payrolls under MGL Ch.41, sec.41 and 56.

Per DOR opinion 94-660, only the school committee has the authority to transfer amounts between line items (allocations) in its budget and cannot delegate this authority to any other municipal board or officer.