NO. R-207.  JOINT RESOLUTION expressing Vermont’s CONCERN WITH THE POTENTIALLY UNFUNDED MANDATES OF THE No Child Left Behind Act.

(J.R.H. 25)

Offered by:  Committee on Appropriations.

Whereas, in fiscal year 2002, under the federal “Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965” (ESEA), Vermont received approximately $44.3 million and used the funds to run many programs that accrued great benefits to low income children and to develop and implement statewide testing in grades 4, 8, and 10 in language arts and mathematics, and

Whereas, in January 2002, the federal government enacted a comprehensive revision to the ESEA known as the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) which expanded federal requirements for primary and secondary school education and increased Vermont’s appropriation to approximately $54 million, an increase of about $9.7 million, and

Whereas, the act increases Vermont’s system of setting standards and testing students for achievement of the standards to once in each of grades 3 - 8 in language arts and mathematics, and once in each of three grades in science causing a major disruption of administrative and curriculum planning as well as a major expense to Vermont’s education system, and

Whereas, the act imposes serious consequences, which will have fiscal implications to both the state and local school districts, in which the students in any grade or subgroup such as low income students or students with disabilities within a grade do not meet the standards, and

Whereas, the act includes numerous other provisions which do not fit the Vermont situation, such as the provision that a school must pay to transport a homeless child back to the school of origin.  This is contrary to Vermont law which requires that a homeless child be educated in the district nearest to where the child is located and could cost a Vermont school district thousands of dollars in transportation costs, and

Whereas, while the expanded provisions of NCLB direct many meritorious improvements in the public education system, they have the potential to  interfere severely with state and local legislative and educational administration prerogatives and to cost the state of Vermont considerably more to implement — some estimate up to three times as much, others estimate considerably more — than the $54 million of federal grants, thereby placing a major burden on the state’s strained financial resources, and

Whereas, Public Law 104-4 of 1995 was intended to curb the practice of imposing unfunded federal mandates on states and local government, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly expresses its concern with the potentially unfunded mandates of NCLB, and be it further

Resolved:  That the General Assembly will not appropriate any state funds for implementing the act which would not otherwise have been expended for public education under existing state education laws, and be it further

Resolved:  That prior to adopting any new rules for the purpose of complying with NCLB, the state board of education or the commissioner of education shall submit a written proposal describing the rule and the potential costs to local school districts of implementing the rule to the senate and house committees on education, and be it further

Resolved:  That on or before January 1 of each year, the commissioner of education shall submit to the senate and house committees on education and appropriations a statement of expenditures by the state and local school districts made in order to comply with NCLB, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation, and Acting Commissioner of Education David Larsen.