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H.867

Introduced by   Committee on Education

Date:

Subject:  Education; incorporated school district; budget vote; audits; Granby school district; liability insurance; equalized pupil count; district spending adjustment; excess spending; homestead tax rate; No Child Left Behind act; pregnant and postpartum pupils; River Valley technical center; town school district T214

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to repeal creation of a grand list for certain incorporated school districts as they are no longer needed; authorize a school district to vote on specific one-time purchase items in the budget vote; direct a school board to show tuition paid to a technical center as a line item in the budget; authorize a school district which does not operate a school to conduct an audit every three years instead of every year; authorize Granby to pay tuition to a public elementary school in New Hampshire; establish a minimum amount of liability insurance that must be carried by a school board; direct regional technical centers to conduct an annual audit; use the same cumulative price index for annual growth in the amount of the essential early education grant as that used for growing other educational grants; authorize the commissioner of education to calculate an equalized pupil count for a municipality; subtract interest payments on funds borrowed in anticipation of state construction aid from the calculation of district spending adjustment;  remove spending for secondary technical tuition from the calculation of excess spending; direct the commissioner of education not to calculate a homestead tax rate until after the deadline for reconsideration of a budget vote has passed; authorize the commissioner of education to conduct annual statewide tests for the next two school years in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind act; direct school districts to comply with provisions of the No Child Left Behind act instead of Vermont state law regarding education of homeless children for the next two years; direct the commissioner of education and the secretary of human services to study who should pay for the education of pregnant and post partum pupils who are educated outside the district of residence; authorize the River Valley Technical Center alternative governing board to exist for one year beyond its sunset date in order to complete its planning process; authorize town school district T214 to both belong to a union school district and pay tuition for its students; and direct the commissioner of education to study the financial impact of programs targeted to students with special needs.

AN ACT RELATING TO MISCELLANEOUS CHANGES TO EDUCATION LAW

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

Sec. 1.  16  V.S.A. § 427 is amended to read:

§ 427.  GRAND LIST

(a)  The grand list of a town or incorporated school district shall consist of one percent of the listed value of the real and personal estate taxable therein.

(b) This subsection shall apply only to the Underhill incorporated school district and the North Bennington graded school district. If an incorporated school district includes more than one town within its district, or parts of more than one town within its district, the most recent equalized grand list shall be used to allocate the annual incorporated school district budget between the several parts of the incorporated district.  Once the budget is allocated, the grand lists of each of the several parts, which are made up by different boards of listers, shall be used to set an individual tax rate for each of the parts within the incorporated school district.  The commissioner of the department of taxes shall adopt all necessary rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this subsection.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 562(8) is amended to read:

(8)  Shall authorize at each annual school district meeting an amount of money from all revenue sources to be expended by the board for the support of public schools; and, except for one-time purchase items which the board warns as a separate article, the board shall determine how the authorized funds shall be expended;

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 563(11) is amended to read:

(11)  Shall prepare and distribute annually a proposed budget for the next school year according to such major categories as may from time to time be prescribed by the commissioner.  At a school district's annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the school budget required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the budget. If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district's annual meeting.  The proposed budget shall be prepared and distributed at least ten days before a sum of money is voted on by the electorate.  Any proposed budget shall show the following information in a format prescribed by the commissioner of education:

(A)  all revenues from all sources and expenses, including as separate items any assessment for a union school district or a supervisory union of which it is a member, and any tuition to be paid to a technical center;

* * *

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 563(17) is amended to read:

(17)  Shall employ a public accountant at least once in each period of three years to audit the financial statements of the school district.  However except in the case of a school district which does not maintain a school, if the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor under section 2651b of Title 17, the school board shall employ a public accountant annually to audit the financial statements of the school district pursuant to that section.  The school board may authorize an audit in conjunction with another school district or a supervisory union.

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 835 is amended to read:

§ 835.  LEMINGTON, BLOOMFIELD, BRUNSWICK, MAIDSTONE,                  GRANBY; TUITIONING OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

The school boards of the towns of Lemington, Bloomfield, Brunswick, Granby, and Maidstone may provide for the elementary education of the pupils residing in their districts by paying tuition to public elementary schools in the state of New Hampshire.  Notwithstanding the provisions of section 823 of this title, school boards affected by this section shall pay the full tuition charged by a public elementary school in New Hampshire.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 1756(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Each board of school directors or supervisory union board of directors shall insure against the liability imposed upon it by this section in any insurance company organized in this state or in any insurance company of another state authorized by law to write such insurance in this state, or through participation in an intermunicipal insurance agreement established under subchapter 6 of chapter 121 of Title 24, with minimum coverage in the form of a comprehensive general liability policy including liability for the operation of owned and nonowned motor vehicles and including the employees as additional insureds and with minimum limits of not less than $500,000.00 per person and $2 million per occurrence for bodily injury and for property damage. The commissioner shall establish by rule minimum limits per person, per bodily injury, and per occurrence for property damage. 

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 1577(13) is amended to read:

(13)  To employ a public accountant at least once in every three-year period year to audit the financial statements of the regional technical center school district and the average daily membership count submitted by the center to the department of education.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 2948(c) is amended to read:

(c)  Each school district shall receive an essential early education grant each school year.  Grants shall be distributed according to the estimated number of children from three through five years of age.  The state board by rule shall encourage coordination of services and may set other terms of the grant.  Each district shall be responsible for the remainder of the costs of providing necessary services under section 2956 of this title.  Annually, for each following fiscal year, the essential early education grant shall be increased by the most recent cumulative price index, as of December 1 November 15, for state and local government purchases of goods and services from fiscal year 2002 through that following fiscal year, as provided through the state's participation in the New England Economic Project.

Sec. 9.  16  V.S.A. § 4001(1) is amended to read:

(1)  "Average daily membership" of a school district, or if needed in order to calculate the appropriate homestead tax rate, of the municipality as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(9), 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 or municipality attending a school owned and operated by the district, attending a public school outside the district under an interdistrict agreement, or for whom the district pays 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

* * *

Sec. 10.  24 V.S.A. § 1523(b) is amended to read:

(b)  When a school district at the end of the fiscal year contemplated by section 1683 of this title has a deficit, unless the voters have voted to borrow funds to repay the deficit over a term of three years or less, or unless the deficit has been refunded pursuant to chapter 53 of this title, the school board shall add an amount sufficient to pay the deficit to its next adopted budget and report the total to the commissioner of education for purposes of calculating local education spending.

Sec. 11.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) and (13) are amended to read:

(12)  "Excess spending" means:

(A)  the per-equalized pupil amount of:

(i)  the district's education spending, plus any amount required to be added from a capital construction reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804(b); minus

(ii)  the portion of education spending which is approved school capital construction spending or deposited into a reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804 to pay future approved school capital construction costs, and the portion of secondary technical education tuition assessed under 16 V.S.A.

§ 1552 which is in excess of the district's equalized per pupil spending, when the per pupil spending is calculated without including the secondary technical education tuition;

(B)  in excess of 125 percent of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in the prior fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education.

(13)  "District spending adjustment" means the greater of: one or a fraction in which the numerator is the district's education spending minus interest payments made on funds borrowed in anticipation of capital construction aid under section 3448 of this title plus excess spending, per equalized pupil, for the school year; and the denominator is the base education payment for the school year, as defined in section 4001 of Title 16.

Sec. 12.  32 V.S.A. § 5402(b)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  If a district has not voted a budget by June 30, an interim homestead education tax shall be imposed at the base rate determined under subdivision (a)(2) of this section, divided by the municipality's most recent common level of appraisal, but without regard to any district spending adjustment.  Within 30 days after a budget is adopted and the deadline for reconsideration has passed, the commissioner shall determine the municipality's homestead tax rate as required under subdivision (b)(1) of this subsection.

Sec. 13.  32 V.S.A. § 5402(e)(2)(C) is amended to read:

(C)  determine a combined homestead tax rate by calculating the weighted average of the rates determined under subdivisions (A) and (B) of this subdivision (2), with weighting based upon the ratio of union school equalized pupils from the member municipality to total equalized pupils of the member municipality; and the ratio of equalized pupils attending a school other than the union school to total equalized pupils of the member municipality. Total equalized pupils of the member municipality is based on the number of pupils who are legal residents of the municipality and attending school at public expense.  If necessary, the commissioner may adopt a rule to clarify and facilitate implementation of this subsection.

Sec. 14.  Sec. 2 of No. 64 of the Acts of 2003, as amended by Sec. 2 of No. 114 of the Acts of 2004 is amended to read:

Sec. 2.  COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS; MEASURING

             ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS TOWARD ACHIEVING

             STATE STANDARDS; CONSEQUENCES

16 V.S.A. § 165 authorizes the commissioner of education to determine how well schools and students are meeting state standards every two years and to impose certain consequences if schools are failing to meet standards after specific time periods.  Notwithstanding the provisions of that section, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, during school years 2003-2004 through 2005-2006 2006‑2008, the commissioner is authorized to determine whether schools and school districts are meeting state standards annually and the state board of education is authorized to impose on schools and school districts consequences allowed in state law and required by the Act within the time frame required in the ActHowever, consistent with Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Sec. 9527 of the No Child Left Behind Act, neither the state nor any subdivision thereof shall be required to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the Act in order to comply with the provisions of the Act.  The state or any subdivision thereof may expend other funds for activities they were already conducting consistent with the Act, or for activities authorized in a state or local fiscal year 2004 budget.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law and to avoid having federal law cause state and local governments to absorb the cost of unfunded mandates.

Sec. 15.  Subsections (b), (c), and (e) of Sec. 3 of No. 64 of the Acts of 2003, as amended by Sec. 2 of No. 114 of the Acts of 2004 are amended to read:

(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. §§ 1075(e), 1093, and 1128(b) which stipulate that a child of parents who become homeless shall be educated in the school district in which the child is found and that a school district may choose not to accept nonresident pupils, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the provisions of this section shall apply to children who are homeless during school years 2003-2004 through 2005-2006 2006‑2008.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law.

(c)  If a child becomes homeless during school year 2003-2004, 2004-2005, or 2005-2006, 2006‑2007, or 2007‑2008 the child shall either be educated:  in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or for the remainder of the academic year if the child becomes permanently housed outside the district of origin; or in the school district in which the child is actually living.  The determination as to which school the child shall attend shall be made by the school board of the school district in which the child is living according to the best interests of the child. 

(e)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(A) which stipulate that a pupil must be a legal resident of the district attending a school owned and operated by the district in order to be counted in the average daily membership of the district, during the 2003-2004 through 2005‑2006

2007‑2008 school years, a child who is homeless during the census period shall be counted in the school district or districts in which the child is enrolled.  However, if at any time a homeless child enrolls, pursuant to this section, in a school district other than the district in which the child was counted, the district in which the child is enrolled shall become responsible for the education of the child, including payment of education services and, if appropriate, development and implementation of an individualized education plan.

Sec. 16.  PREGNANT AND POSTPARTUM PUPILS; PAYMENT OF                                           EDUCATION COSTS; STUDY

(a)  The commissioner of education and the secretary of human services shall develop and analyze options for payment of education costs for a pregnant or postpartum pupil attending an approved public school in Vermont or an adjacent state, an approved independent school in Vermont, or other educational program, other than a 24hour residential facility, approved by the state board of education pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 1073(b). 

(b)  On or before January 30, 2007, the commissioner and secretary shall determine which of the options should be adopted by the general assembly and shall transmit their recommendation and analysis to the senate and house committees on education.

Sec. 17.  RIVER VALLEY TECHNICAL CENTER GOVERNING BOARD;                                   SUNSET EXTENDED

The governing board of the River Valley Technical Center, which was authorized as a pilot project pursuant to Sec. 121a of No. 71 of the Acts of  the 1997 Adj. Sess. (1998) and Sec. 18 of No. 138 of the Acts of the 1997 Adj. Sess. (1998); authorized to be the planning committee for purposes of planning a technical center region pursuant to Sec. 4 of No. 33 of the Acts of 2001; and extended until July 1, 2006 under Sec. 19 of No. 107 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is hereby authorized to continue as the governing board of the River Valley Technical Center and the planning committee for a technical center region until July 1, 2007.

Sec. 18.  TOWN SCHOOL DISTRICT T214; AUTHORIZED TO PAY                                            TUITION

Town school district T214, which has historically paid tuition for resident grade 7‑12 students attending public and independent schools outside the union high school district, in accordance with 16 V.S.A. § 824, may continue to do so and shall count each student for whom it pays tuition on a full-time equivalent student basis for purposes of calculating the average daily membership.

Sec. 19.  SPECIAL PROGRAMS; FINANCIAL IMPACT; REPORT BY                                         COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

On or before January 30, 2007, the commissioner of education shall report to the senate and house committees on education regarding the financial impact of a special program providing services for students with a specific disability, such as autism, an emotional disability, or deafness, on a school district in which the program is located and on a school district which is obligated to pay for the services of the special program.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us