By Evan Lips
BILLERICA -- On the same day it was learned a judge had reinstated the pension of former Merrimack Special Education Collaborative Executive Director John Barranco, the board of directors for both MSEC and the Merrimack Education Center voted to distribute $1 million to its nine member school districts.
MSEC Executive Director Chris Scott said Wednesday's vote was "another step along the journey forward," referring to the alleged misuse under Barranco of at least $37 million in public money intended to help local special-education students.
MSEC had entered into a settlement agreement with MEC in October 2012, according to a joint statement issued by Scott and Tyngsboro Superintendent Donald Ciampa, who also serves on MSEC's Board of Directors.
The final settlement payment by MEC to MSEC amounts to $4.16 million. Scott said the board will determine by no later than June 30 whether or what additional monies from the settlement funds can or will be distributed to the member districts.
The final decision will hinge on where MSEC establishes long-term classroom and administrative office space. The Billerica-based collaborative is in the process of severing all lease agreements with MEC by June 2014.
The $1 million initial settlement will be distributed in amounts that correspond to the percentage of average tuition payments made by the member districts to MSEC over the last three fiscal years.
Under the rules of the breakdown:
* Chelmsford, with a 26.93 percent tuition total, will receive $269,245.
* North Middlesex Regional School District, with a 14.35 percent tuition total, will receive $143,497.
* Billerica, with a 14.11 percent tuition total, will receive $141,100.
* Dracut, with a 14.1 percent tuition total, will receive $140,983.
* Tewksbury, with a 13.26 percent tuition total, will receive $132,618.
* Westford, with an 8.84 percent tuition total, will receive $88,374.
* Tyngsboro, with a 4.66 percent tuition total, will receive $46,593.
* Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, with a 3.76 percent tuition total, will receive $37,589.
* Nashoba Valley Technical High School, with a 0 percent tuition total, will not receive any money.
The decision as to how the money is spent by each member district will be left up to them, officials said.