AN ACT RELATING TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:
Sec. 1. PREKINDERGARTEN EDUCATION STUDY COMMITTEE
(a) There is created a prekindergarten education study committee to be made up of two senators chosen by the committee on committees, two representatives chosen by the speaker, one representative of the department of education chosen by the commissioner, one representative of the department for children and families chosen by the secretary of human services, two members chosen by the governor, one representative of child care providers currently under contract with a public school district to provide prekindergarten services chosen by the commissioner of education, and one representative of child care providers who is not under contract with a public school chosen by the secretary of human services. The committee may meet up to six times, shall receive per diem and expenses pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 406 and 32 V.S.A. § 1010, and shall receive staff services from the legislative council, the joint fiscal office, the department of education, and the agency of human services.
(b) The committee shall, at a minimum, gather the following information:
(1) How many private and public or publicly funded prekindergarten education services currently exist in Vermont.
(2) What kinds of services and educational programs are offered by existing prekindergarten education programs.
(3) The costs of existing prekindergarten education programs and how they are funded.
(4) Current department of education and agency of human services standards for prekindergarten education facilities.
(c) The committee shall, at a minimum, study and make findings regarding:
(1) What the research says about the effects of prekindergarten education.
(2) Whether prekindergarten education services should be offered at public expense and, if so:
(A) whether services should be provided by public schools, private providers, or both;
(B) the estimated costs of providing public prekindergarten programs and what public monies should be used to support them;
(C) what would be the mechanism for dispersing these monies; and
(D) what state agency or agencies should have responsibility for developing standards regarding the quality and content of prekindergarten education programs and for determining educator qualifications, and whether standards for public schools should differ from those for private providers.
(3) Which groups of children benefit academically and socially from receiving prekindergarten educational services.
(4) Whether all groups of prekindergarten children benefit from an inclusionary educational environment.
(5) Whether enrollment in a prekindergarten education program should be voluntary.
(6) Whether participation may take place outside the district of residence.
(7) Whether a community should conduct a needs assessment before starting or expanding a program, and if so, how private providers and school districts should be involved in the assessment.
(d) On or before January 30, 2007, the committee shall present the information it has gathered, its findings, and its recommendations to the senate and house committees on education, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on human services.
Sec. 2. INTERIM PROVISIONS
(a) In order to enable the legislative prekindergarten education study committee to accomplish its work and give the general assembly the time to consider and respond to the recommendations of the committee, the state board of education shall not change, repeal, or adopt any rules regarding provision of early childhood or prekindergarten education services prior to June 30, 2008.
(b) During school year 2006–2007, only a school district which has planned and budgeted for a prekindergarten education program prior to July 1, 2006 shall be authorized to begin a new program.
(c) During the 2007–2008 school year, a school district which begins a new program of prekindergarten education shall contract with qualified early childhood education service providers in the school district unless it determines that it cannot efficiently and effectively provide quality services using these providers, or that no qualified programs exist in the district or no private programs are interested in providing the services in collaboration with the school district. In determining efficiency and effectiveness, school districts shall emphasize affordability, access, and high quality in early learning experiences. In the case of a dispute, the commissioner of education shall determine whether a school district has met the requirements of this subsection, and a decision of the commissioner shall be final.
Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street