Introduced by Representative Chen of Mendon
Subject: Education; school choice; transfer regions
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to expand public school choice to require each high school to enter into a transfer agreement with every high school in an adjoining district; to provide that if a student chooses to transfer out of the district of residence, for purposes of counting students to determine funding, one‑quarter of the student count shall follow the student and three‑quarters shall stay in the district of residence; and to increase transportation reimbursements for schools transporting students exercising school choice.
AN ACT RELATING TO AN EXPANSION OF PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL CHOICE
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. PURPOSE
It is the purpose of this act to continue and expand public high school choice program begun in No. 150 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000).
Sec. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF TRANSFER REGIONS
(a) This section applies to a school district which maintains a high school.
(b) In this section, “high school” means a school or that portion of a school which offers grades 9, 10, 11, or 12; and wherever the context so indicates, “student” refers to the student if the student is not a minor, and to the student’s parent or guardian if the student is a minor or under guardianship.
(c) If a school board determines that participation in a transfer region would adversely affect students in its high school, or that entering into an agreement with one or more adjoining school districts under subsection (d) of this section is impractical due to geographic or other considerations, it may petition the commissioner for an exemption. The commissioner’s decision shall be final.
(d) On or before September 1, 2006, each school district which maintains a high school shall enter into an agreement with at least every adjoining school district which maintains a high school to establish a transfer region. A school district may belong to more than one transfer region. On or before October 15, 2006, the commissioner of education shall assign any school district which has not entered into an agreement with adjoining districts by September 1 to a region or regions, and the assigned school shall comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement entered into by the districts in that region. A decision of the commissioner shall be final.
(e) Beginning on July 1, 2007, a student may choose to attend any public high school within the transfer region subject to the constraints of this section.
(f) Unless all the school district boards within the transfer region have agreed to a different arrangement, the schools within the region shall not charge or pay tuition or other costs, except as provided in this subsection, for a student who transfers under this section. However, the district of residence shall pay special education or technical education costs pursuant to the provisions of Title 16. In addition, beginning in school year 2007-2008, for a student who transfers, the district of enrollment shall count the student as 0.25 FTE and the district of residence shall count the student as 0.75 FTE under 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1).
(g) The district of residence shall be the local education agency responsible for development and payment of the individualized education program. Upon request of the district of residence, the district of enrollment shall carry out the individualized education program. Upon request of the district of enrollment, the district of residence shall consider changing an individualized education program or a determination of the eligibility of a student for special education services. The district of residence shall give notice of meetings about the student to the district of enrollment and provide an opportunity for representatives of the district to attend the meetings and participate in the decision-making.
(h) A school board may restrict the number of students who may transfer under this section in any one year to five percent of the students enrolled in grades 9-12 or 10 students, whichever is fewer.
(i) Annually, each school board in a transfer region shall determine its capacity to accept students. The commissioner shall develop guidelines for consideration by the boards when they determine capacity limits. Guidelines may include limits based on the capacity of the program, class, grade, school building, or measurable adverse financial impact.
(j) If the number of students applying to transfer under this section exceeds the limits, the board shall devise a nondiscriminatory lottery system for determining which students may transfer.
(k) A school is not required to provide services to a student during a period of suspension or expulsion imposed in another school district.
(l) An enrolled nonresident student shall be permitted to remain enrolled in the nonresident high school without renewed applications in subsequent years unless one of the following occurs:
(1) The student graduates.
(2) The student is no longer a Vermont resident.
(3) The student is expelled from school in accordance with adopted school policy.
(m) The superintendents of schools in a transfer region shall establish a clearinghouse for families needing information about transportation options that will help them to exercise school choice.
(n) The state board of education may adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.
(o) Unless the districts in a transfer region agree otherwise, they shall use the following procedures for implementing this section:
(1) Acceptance of applications through March 1 of the school year preceding the school year for which the student is applying.
(2) Notification to the student of acceptance or rejection of the application by April 1 of the school year preceding the school year for which the student is applying.
(3) A requirement that the student notify the districts of residence and enrollment of a decision to transfer by April 15 of the school year preceding the school year for which the student has applied. Following notification, the student may enter a different public school only if the student, school of enrollment, and the school to which the student wishes to transfer agree. However, if the student becomes a resident of a different school district, the student may enroll in the school of the new district of residence at the time of the move.
(4) A student who has transferred under this section may reenroll in the school district of residence for the next school year by notifying it no later than July 15.
Sec. 3. TRANSPORTATION EXPENDITURES
Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4016, beginning in school year 2007-2008, a school district which incurs transportation expenditures for the purpose of transporting a student to a school in another school district pursuant to this act shall receive a transportation reimbursement grant equal to 70 percent of allowable transportation expenditures.
Sec. 4. TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
It is the intent of the general assembly that the provisions of No. 230 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) shall continue to be in effect until No. 230 is repealed on July 1, 2007 and that school districts shall begin to form transfer agreements as required by this act during the next two years in order to be ready for the transition to this act by July 1, 2007. Therefore, this act shall take effect on July 1, 2006. However, agreements entered into pursuant to this act are not required to take effect until school year 2007-2008.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street