Introduced by Representatives Otterman of Topsham, Baker of West Rutland, Branagan of Georgia, Endres of Milton, Helm of Castleton, Kilmartin of Newport City, Larocque of Barnet, Myers of Essex and Winters of Williamstown
Subject: Education; school choice; public schools; independent schools; home study programs
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to establish that a parent may choose to send a child to any public school which has capacity for the student or to any secular or sectarian independent school which accepts the student or to enroll the child in a home study program. In the case of public schools, a public school must accept any student as long as it has capacity, the student shall be counted in the average daily membership of the school of enrollment, and the school of enrollment may charge the parent for costs in excess of state aid for both regular and special education. In the case of an independent school, the parent would receive a certificate which commits the state to pay to the school $5,000.00 for a year of educational services in grades 9-12 and $2,500.00 for a year of educational services in grades K-8. In the case of a child enrolled in a home study program, the parent would receive a certificate which commits the state to pay to the parent $1,000.00 for a year of educational services in grades 9-12 and $500.00 for a year of educational services in grades K-8.
AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC AND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL CHOICE
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 16 V.S.A. § 829 is added to read:
§ 829. PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 821 through 824 of this title, the provisions of this section shall apply to a school district which chooses to maintain a school and not provide for the education of its pupils by paying tuition and to a student whose parent or guardian resides in such a district.
(b) Each school district which maintains a school shall:
(1) Annually state the capacity of each school in the district and may state capacity for individual grades and programs. The commissioner shall adopt a rule defining how a district may establish school, grade, and program capacity.
(2) On or before July 1 of each year, enroll for the next school year a Vermont student from another district whose parent or guardian has, prior to June 15, submitted an application for admission of the child. Applications shall be accepted in the order of the filing of the applications until capacity is reached.
(3) Count each student enrolled under this section in its average daily membership. A student counted under this subdivision shall not be counted in the average daily membership of the district of residence. In this case, the district in which the student is enrolled shall have the same obligations and responsibilities for the student as the district of residence would have if the student were enrolled in the district of residence.
(4) Charge the parents for costs attributable to a student enrolled under this section which are not paid for through state or federal aid. However, the costs attributable to the student shall be no more than the maximum tuition rate as defined in section 825 of this title and special education costs in excess of state reimbursements under sections 2961 through 2963a of this title.
Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1) is amended to read:
(1) “Average daily membership” of a school district in any year means:
(A) the full-time equivalent enrollment of pupils, as defined by the state board by rule, who are legal residents of the district attending a school owned and operated by the district, attending a public school outside the district under an interdistrict agreement, legal residents of another school district attending a school owned and operated by the district pursuant to section 829 of this title, or for whom the district pays union school assessment or tuition to one or more approved independent schools or public schools outside the district during the annual census period. The census period consists of the first 40 days of the school year in which school is actually in session; and
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Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 4010(a) is amended to read:
(a) On or before the first day of December during each school year, the commissioner shall determine the average daily membership of each school district for the current school year. The determination shall list separately:
(1) resident pupils being provided elementary education and
nonresident pupils enrolled in elementary education under section 829 of this title; and
(2) resident pupils being provided secondary education and nonresident pupils enrolled in secondary education under section 829 of this title.
Sec. 4. 16 V.S.A. § 4013 is added to read:
§ 4013. SCHOOL CHOICE; STUDENTS ATTENDING INDEPENDENT
SCHOOLS; STUDENTS ENROLLED IN HOME STUDY
(a) A parent or guardian who informs the commissioner on or before July 1 that his or her child will be enrolled in a secular or sectarian independent school or a home study program during the next school year shall receive a certificate payable by the commissioner for one year of schooling as follows:
(1) For a child who will attend any of grades K-8 at an independent school: $2,500.00.
(2) For a child who will attend any of grades 9-12 at an independent school: $5,000.00.
(3) For a child enrolled in any of grades K-8 in a home study program:
(4) For a child enrolled in any of grades 9-12 in a home study program: $1,000.00.
(b) The commissioner shall provide partial payment for a certificate awarded under this section upon certification that the child has completed a semester of education. Payment shall be prorated accordingly. Payment of a certificate for educational services provided at an independent school shall be made to the school, and payment of a certificate for educational services provided by a home study program shall be made to the parent or guardian.
(c) In no case shall a payment made under this section exceed 100 percent of the tuition charged by a secular independent school. To safeguard against the use of public funds for religious worship, payment is limited to 95 percent of the tuition charged by a sectarian independent school.
(d) A parent, in consultation with the administration of the independent school, shall determine what services will be provided to a student with a disability who is attending an independent school under this section. The independent school may charge the parent for such services unless they are paid for by state or federal funds.
Sec. 5. REPEAL
16 V.S.A. § 1093 is repealed.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street