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NO. 8. AN ACT TO UPDATE EDUCATION STATUTES TO REFLECT RECENT CHANGES IN LAW.

(S.88)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(8) is amended to read:

(8) "Independent school" means a school other than a public school, which provides a program of elementary or secondary education, or both. An "independent school meeting *[public]* school quality standards" means an independent school in Vermont *[that applies to the state board for public school approval and meets the standards for public school approval]* which undergoes the school quality standards process and meets the requirements of subsection 165(b) of this title.

Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 165(f) is added to read:

(f) In order to be designated an independent school meeting school quality standards, an independent school shall participate in the school quality standards process of subsection (b) of this section. An independent school shall receive technical assistance in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b), but shall not be subject to subdivisions (b)(2)-(4) of this section. The school shall be an independent school meeting school quality standards unless the state board, after opportunity for hearing, finds that:

(1) the school has discontinued its participation in the school quality standards process; or

(2) two or more years following a determination that the school is not meeting the quality standards or that the school is making insufficient progress in improving student performance, the school fails to meet the standards or make sufficient progress toward meeting the standards.

Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 261a(1) and (2) are amended to read:

The board of each supervisory union shall:

(1) set policy to coordinate curriculum plans among the sending and receiving schools in that supervisory union. The curriculum plans shall meet the requirements *[of the state board for approval of public schools]* adopted by the state board under subdivision 165(a)(3)(B) of this title;

(2) take reasonable steps to assist each school in the supervisory union to follow its respective curriculum plan as adopted under the requirements of the state board *[for approval of public schools]* pursuant to subdivision 165(a)(3)(B) of this title;

Sec. 4. 16 V.S.A. § 555 is amended to read:

§ 555. NO LIABILITY FOR UNAUTHORIZED OR DEFICIT SPENDING

(a) It is the intent of the general assembly that school boards should spend within the amount authorized by the electorate under sections 428, 511 or *[711]* 711a of this title and should not incur a deficit. However, the general assembly recognizes that in the course of a school district budget year it may be necessary for expenditures to exceed revenues received or the amount authorized by the electorate.

(b) A school board member shall not be liable under any law, including any criminal law, on the sole basis that the board has spent more than authorized under sections 428, 511 or *[711]* 711a of this title or that a deficit, as defined in section 1523 of Title 24, has occurred.

Sec. 5. 16 V.S.A. § 563(13) is amended to read:

(13) Shall prepare annually, on or before August 5, a report for the school district containing, on forms prescribed and furnished by the commissioner, a classified statement under oath of the *[actual cash]* accrued expenditures of the school district for the preceding school year for school purposes, and such other information as the commissioner prescribes. Such report shall be prepared in triplicate, one copy shall be retained by the superintendent, and one copy shall be sent to the school district clerk and the other sent to the commissioner on or before August 15. A district shall not be entitled to receive any portion of school money distributed by the state unless such returns are made.

Sec. 6. 16 V.S.A. § 565(b) is amended to read:

(b) Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment and hazing prevention policies which shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the commissioner. In this section, the definitions of educational institution, organization, pledging, and student shall be the same as those in section *[151]* 140a of this title.

* * *

Sec. 7. 16 V.S.A. § 566 is amended to read:

§ 566. AUTHORITY TO BORROW

Notwithstanding the provisions of *[16 V.S.A. §]* subdivision 562(9) of this title, if a budget for the support of schools for the ensuing year has not been approved on or before June 30 of any year, the school board may borrow funds necessary to enable it to operate the schools on a budget *[that equals]* of up to 87 percent of the most recently approved school budget. *[A "budget that equals up to 87 percent of the most recently approved school budget" includes funds received as general state]* *[aid and funds raised under section 564 of this title.]* If the school board borrows money under this section, it shall determine how all funds shall be expended.

Sec. 8. 16 V.S.A. § 711b is amended to read:

§ 711b. ASSESSMENT AND PAYMENT TO SUPPORT UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT

(a) Upon receipt of the notice of the share in the union district expenses, the share shall become a legal obligation of the member district without need for further vote of the member district electorate.

(b) Unless otherwise agreed by the voters of a union school district, amounts owed to the union school district:

(1) if derived from tax revenues shall be paid within 20 days of the day on which the taxes become payable; or

(2) if derived from payments made under section 4028 of this title:

(A) the amount so derived as a percentage of the total state aid shall not exceed the percentage that the school district’s union school enrollment bears to the district’s total enrollment; and

(B) each installment shall be paid within 20 days of the day state aid is received.

(c) If a union school district or joint contract district does not *[vote]* adopt a budget by June 1, a member district shall pay amounts under subsection (b) of this section, equal to the most recently adopted union or joint contract budget, allocated according to the current year’s apportionment. If the union or joint contract district subsequently *[votes]* adopts a budget, a member district shall reconcile the difference in its next payment.

(d) Payments due to a union school district which are not paid on time shall be subject to a late penalty and interest. The amount of the penalty shall be eight percent of the amounts due. Interest shall be paid on the unpaid balance at the rate of one percent per month or fraction of a month for the first three months that the payment is overdue, and one and one-half percent per month or fraction of a month thereafter. The total of penalty and interest shall not exceed the amount of the payment itself.

(e) The board of directors of the union district may bring an action on this statute in the name of the union district to recover of the member district the amount due under this section, and, upon judgment, may levy its execution against any of the real or personal property within the delinquent member district.

Sec. 9. 16 V.S.A. § 824(b) is amended to read:

(b) Except as otherwise provided for technical students, the district shall pay the full tuition charged its pupils attending *[an approved]* a public high school in Vermont or an adjoining state, or a public or independent school in Vermont functioning as an approved area technical center, or an independent school meeting *[public]* school quality standards. However, if a payment made to *[an approved]* a public high school or an independent school meeting *[public]* school quality standards is three percent more or less than the calculated net cost per secondary pupil in average daily membership in the receiving school district for the year of attendance then the district shall be reimbursed, credited or refunded pursuant to section 836 of this title, unless otherwise agreed to by the boards of both the receiving and sending districts or independent schools.

Sec. 10. 16 V.S.A. § 826(a) and (b) are amended to read:

(a) A school board, or the board of trustees of an independent school meeting *[public]* school quality standards which proposes to increase tuition charges shall notify the school board of the school district from which its nonresident pupils come, and the commissioner, of the proposed increase on or before February 1 in any year; such increases shall not become effective without the notice and not until the following school year.

(b) A school board or the board of trustees of an independent school meeting *[public]* school quality standards may establish a separate tuition for one or more special education programs. No such tuition shall be established unless the state board has by rule defined the program as of a type which may be funded by a separate tuition. Any such tuition shall be announced in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. The amount of tuition shall reflect the net cost per pupil in the program. The announcement of tuition shall describe the special education services included or excluded from coverage. Tuition for part-time pupils shall be reduced proportionally.

Sec. 11. 16 V.S.A. § 2950(b) is amended to read:

(b) Residential payments.

(1) For a student in the care and custody of the commissioner of social and rehabilitation services who is placed in a 24-hour residential facility within or outside Vermont, the commissioner of education shall pay the education costs and the commissioner of social and rehabilitation services shall arrange for the payment of the remainder of the costs. However, where the state interagency team, as defined in *[3 V.S.A. § 32]* section 4302 of Title 33, has found such placement inappropriate for the student’s education needs, the commissioner of education shall pay none of the education costs of the placement and the commissioner of social and rehabilitation services shall arrange for the payment of the full cost of the placement.

(2) For a student who is placed in a 24-hour residential facility within or outside Vermont by a Vermont licensed child placement agency, a designated community mental health agency, any other agency as defined by the commissioner of education, or a Vermont state agency other than the department of corrections or the department of social and rehabilitation services, the commissioner of education shall pay the education costs and the agency in whose care the student is placed shall arrange for the payment of the remainder of the costs. However, where the state interagency team, as defined in *[3 V.S.A. § 32]* section 4302 of Title 33, has found such placement inappropriate for the student’s education needs, the commissioner of education shall pay none of the education costs of the placement and the agency in whose care the student is placed shall arrange for payment of the full cost of the placement. This subdivision does not apply to a student for whom a residential placement is:

(A) specified in the student’s individualized education program, and

(B) funded in collaboration with another agency.

Sec. 12. 16 V.S.A. § 2957(d) is amended to read:

(d) An appeal from a final administrative decision in a special education due process hearing to a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to *[20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)]* 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2) shall be commenced within 90 days from the notice of the final decision, and not after.

Sec. 13. 16 V.S.A. § 2963(a) is amended to read:

(a) Each town school district, unified union school district and incorporated school district shall receive a special education expenditures reimbursement grant each school year.

Sec. 14. 16 V.S.A. § 3447 is amended to read:

§ 3447. SCHOOL BUILDING CONSTRUCTION - STATE BONDS; CITY AS SCHOOL DISTRICT

The state treasurer may issue bonds under chapter 13 of Title 32 in such amount as may from time to time be appropriated to assist incorporated school districts, joint contract school districts, town school districts, union school districts and independent schools meeting *[public]* school quality standards which serve as the public high school for one or more towns or cities, or combination thereof, and which both receive their principal support from public funds and are conducted within the state under the authority and supervision of a board of trustees, not less than two-thirds of whose membership is appointed by the selectboard of a town or by the city council of a city or in part by such selectboard and the remaining part by such council under the conditions and for the purpose set forth in sections 3447-3456 of this title. A city shall be deemed to be an incorporated school district within the meaning of sections 3447-3456 of this title.

Sec. 15. 16 V.S.A. § 4001(10) is amended to read:

(10) "School district" means a town school district, city school district, incorporated school district, the member school districts of an interstate school district, the member towns of a unified union district, or an unorganized town or gore.

Sec. 16. 16 V.S.A. § 4011(e) is amended to read:

(e) *[In a school district which maintains a secondary school and offers grade 12 in that school, for each resident student attending the Vermont Academy of Science and Technology, the amount of the general state support grant for one equalized pupil shall be subtracted from payments made under this section. The amount of the general state support grant for that pupil shall be sent to the Vermont Academy of Science and Technology.]* The commissioner shall pay an amount equal to the general state support grant to the Vermont Academy of Science and Technology for each Vermont resident, 12th grade student enrolled.

Sec. 17. REPEAL

Sec. 30(b) of Act No. 157 of the Acts of 1996, repealing state aid for special education costs in July 2001, is repealed.

Sec. 18. Sec. 17a of Act No. 49 of the Acts of 1999 is amended to read:

Sec. 17a. UNORGANIZED TOWNS AND GORES *[WITH FEWER THAN

]*

*[FIVE STUDENTS

]*

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in fiscal years *[1999, 2000 and ]*2001 *[only]* through 2004, any unorganized town or gore *[with fewer than five students as of July 1 of the fiscal year]*:

* * *

Sec. 19. 16 V.S.A. § 1162(a) is amended to read:

(a) A superintendent or principal may, pursuant to policies adopted by the school board that are consistent with state board rules, suspend a pupil for up to 10 school days or, with the approval of the board of the school district, expel a pupil for up to the remainder of the school year or up to 90 school days, whichever is longer, for misconduct on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity when the misconduct makes the continued presence of the pupil harmful to the welfare of the school or for misconduct not on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity where direct harm to the welfare of the school can be demonstrated. Nothing contained in this section shall prevent a superintendent or principal, subject to subsequent due process procedures, from removing immediately from a school a pupil who poses a continuing danger to persons or property or an ongoing threat of disrupting the academic process of the school, or from expelling a pupil who brings a weapon to school pursuant to section 1166 of this title.

Sec. 20. EFFECTIVE DATES

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2001. However, the commissioner of education shall make payments to unorganized towns and gores pursuant to Sec. 18 of this act for fiscal year 2001.

Approved: April 10, 2001