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S.132

Introduced by   Senator Condos of Chittenden District, Senator Illuzzi of  Essex-Orleans District, Senator Lyons of Chittenden District and Senator Miller of Chittenden District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Education; early childhood education; appropriation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require schools to consider offering kindergarten readiness programs; allow school districts to authorize the supervisory union to provide early childhood education programs; create standards and a process for approving g public early childhood education programs and allowing a school district with an approved program to count enrolled students in its average daily membership; authorize school districts to maintain early childhood education programs which are not approved;  establish that a child shall be five years old on September 1 of the year of admission to kindergarten; and appropriate $200,000.00 from the education fund to assist regional collaboratives working to expand delivery of early childhood education programs.

AN ACT RELATING TO IMPROVING EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR VERMONT’S CHILDREN

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

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 165(a)(1) is amended to read:

(1)  The school shall, through a process including parents, teachers, students, and community members, develop, implement, and annually update a comprehensive action plan to improve student performance within the school.  The plan shall include goals and objectives for improved student learning and, educational strategies, and activities to achieve their goals the goals, and if the school operates an elementary program, strategies to promote kindergarten readiness and transition to school.  The plan shall also address the effectiveness of efforts made since the previous action plan to ensure the school maintains a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment which is free from harassment, hazing, and bullying.  The school shall assess student performance under the plan using a method or methods of assessment developed under subdivision 164(9) of this title.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 261a(8) is amended to read:

(8)  at the option of the supervisory union, provide the following services for the benefit of member districts according to joint agreements under section 267 of this title:

(A)  centralized purchasing;

(B)  construction management;

(C)  budgeting, accounting and other financial management;

(D)  teacher negotiations;

(E)  transportation; and

(F)  early childhood education programs; and

(G)  other appropriate services;

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 829 is added to read:

§ 829.  EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM; APPROVAL;

             STUDENTS COUNTED IN AVERAGE DAILY MEMBERSHIP

(a)  A school district may maintain an approved public        early childhood education program either by becoming a qualified service provider or by contracting with one or more qualified service providers, or both.  In this section, a qualified service provider is an entity which has:

(1)  received from the department for children and families a license or registration to operate a day care facility or family day care home pursuant to section 3502 of Title 33; and

(2)  either received accreditation from a national early education association recognized by the state board and the commissioner for children and families by joint rule or applied for accreditation and expects to receive it within three years of entering into a contract with a school district.  If the service provider fails to receive accreditation within three years of application, it shall not be a qualified service provider.

(b)  The commissioner of education and the commissioner for children and families shall adopt joint rules regarding a process and standards for approval of a public early childhood education program.  At a minimum, standards for approval shall include that:

(1)  The school district developed the program through a collaborative planning process that actively involved parents and community providers of early childhood services, early childhood councils, school districts, and supervisory unions.

(2)  The program is based on the results of a community needs assessment.

(3)  Each provider in the program will provide at least six hours per week of developmentally appropriate educational services for at least 35 weeks per year.  The rules shall include a definition of “developmentally appropriate educational services” for children between the ages of three and five.

(4)  Program providers will ensure that whenever developmentally appropriate educational services are being provided to the children, at least one teacher licensed under subdivision 164(5) of this title is present.

(c)  The commissioner shall count a student attending an approved public early childhood education program in determining the average daily membership of the school district pursuant to subdivision 4001(1)(C) of this title. 

(d)  A school board may charge the parent or guardian for early childhood education services at an approved public early education program in excess of 10 hours if they are not paid for by other state, federal, or private funds.  In this case, the school may charge either:

(1)  at the same rate or amount for all children; or

(2)  according to an income-based sliding scale developed by the school district or a contracted service provider. 

(e)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, decisions regarding education placement for a child attending a public early childhood education program who is eligible for special education services shall be made in accordance with federal law.

(f)  No child shall be required to attend an approved early childhood education program.

(g)  When starting or expanding a public early childhood education program, a school district shall use existing public and private qualified service providers unless the district finds that it cannot efficiently and effectively meet quality program standards by using one or more of these providers.

(h)  A parent or guardian residing in a school district having an approved early childhood education program may apply to send a child to any qualified provider in Vermont participating in an approved program.  If the child is accepted by a qualified service provider who has not entered into a contract with the school district of residence pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the parent or guardian may request that the provider negotiate a contract with the school district.

(i)  A parent or guardian residing in a school district not having an approved early childhood education program by July 2011 is eligible to apply to send a child to any qualified provider in Vermont participating in an approved program.  If the child is accepted, the parent or guardian may request that the provider negotiate a contract with the school district of residence.  If no contract is executed, the parent or guardian may petition the commissioner to intervene on the child’s behalf.

(j)  An approved early childhood education program shall comply with applicable requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 830 is added to read:

§ 830.  EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS WITHOUT

            APPROVAL

(a)  A school district may maintain a public early childhood education program either by becoming a qualified service provider or contracting with one or more qualified service providers, or both.  In this section, a qualified service provider is an entity which has received from the department for children and families a license or registration to operate a day care facility or family day care home pursuant to section 3502 of Title 33.

(b)  A program or service provider operating under this section may be eligible for early education funding pursuant to section 4014 of this title and for funds available through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  However, children attending a public early childhood education program which has not received approval under section 829 of this title shall not be counted in the average daily membership of the school district.

(c)  A program or service provider operating under this section may also operate an essential early education program. 

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 1073 is amended to read:

§ 1073.  “LEGAL PUPIL” DEFINED; ACCESS TO SCHOOL

(a)  “Legal pupil” means an individual who has attained the age of five years on or before January 1 next following the beginning of the school year.  However, a school district may establish and enforce a regulation which requires that students admitted to kindergarten have attained the age of five on or before any date between August 31 and January 1 September 1 of the year of admission to a public school. 

* * *

(c)  An individual who is not a legal pupil shall not may be enrolled in a public school, except for enrollment under the following circumstances:

(1)  the pupil is enrolled in a program of essential early education, without the consent of the superintendent;

(2)  the pupil is enrolled in a public early childhood education program maintained by a school district pursuant to section 829 or 830 of this title;

(3)  the pupil is enrolled in early intervention services through the Vermont family, infant and toddler program; or

(4)  the school board has determined on a case‑by‑case basis that enrollment in elementary education will serve the best interests of a child who has not reached the age of five by September 1.  By July 1, 2006, each school board that operates an elementary school shall adopt a policy regarding the process and criteria for allowing a child who will reach the age of five by December 31 of the year of enrollment to enroll in elementary education prior to reaching the age of five.  The decision of the school board shall be final in regard to enrollment of a child under this subdivision.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(15) and (16) are added to read:

(15)  “Part-day kindergarten” means a kindergarten program which offers at least ten hours of educational services per week but fewer days or hours than a full-day kindergarten.  “Full-day kindergarten” means a kindergarten program which offers at least 20 hours of educational services per week.

(16)  “Preschool child” means a child enrolled in an approved public early childhood education program maintained by a school district pursuant to section 829 of this title in early intervention services through the Vermont family, infant and toddler program or in an essential early education program.

Sec. 7.  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, 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

(B)  the full-time equivalent enrollment in the year between the end of the last census period and the end of the current census period, of any state‑placed students as defined in subdivision 11(a)(28) of this title.  The full‑time equivalent enrollment of state-placed students attending a union school shall be divided among the member districts in the same proportions that the members divide assessment.  A school district which provides for the education of its students by paying tuition to an approved independent school or public school outside the district shall not count a state-placed student for whom it is paying tuition for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A school district which is receiving the full amount, as defined by the state board by rule, of the student's education costs under subsection 2950(a) of this title, shall not count the student for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A state-placed student who is counted in average daily membership shall be counted as a student for the purposes of determining weighted student count;

(C)  preschool children shall be counted as one full-time equivalent pupil for each child receiving ten or more hours a week of services, and as one multiplied by the number of hours of service per week divided by ten, for each child receiving less than ten hours of service per week.  However, a child enrolled in an approved public early childhood education program for fewer than six hours per week shall not be counted in the average daily membership.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 4010(a) and (c) are 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 preschool children;

(2)  resident pupils being provided part-day kindergarten;

(3)  resident pupils being provided elementary or full-day kindergarten education; and

(2)(4)  resident pupils being provided secondary education.

(c)  The commissioner shall determine the weighted long-term membership for each school district using the long-term membership from subsection (b) of this section and the following weights for each class:

Grade Level Weight

(1)  Preschool   0.46

(2)  Part-day kindergarten   0.75

(3)  Elementary or full-day kindergarten   1.0

(4)  Secondary   1.25

Sec. 9.  APPROPRIATION

(a)  The amount of $200,000.00 is appropriated from the education fund to the commissioner of education for the purpose of providing financial assistance to regional collaboratives of two or more school districts and agencies or organizations working together to expand the delivery of early childhood education programs in the region.  A grant may be up to $65,000.00 for one collaborative and shall be used by the collaborative to assist its school districts to accomplish one or more of the following:

(1)  conduct an assessment of early education needs and existing capacity in the region;

(2)  develop a regional plan to address early education needs and transition to school;

(3)  incorporate strategies to promote kindergarten readiness and transition to school into the districts’ action plans;

(4)  develop criteria and a process for establishing regional partnerships among early education service providers pursuant to sections 829 and 830 of Title 16, including strategies to assist local early education programs to become qualified service providers;

(5)  develop long‑term financial planning and accountability measures;

(6)  ensure participation of schools on regional early childhood councils.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2006, the commissioner of education shall report to the senate and house committees on appropriations and on education on how funds appropriated under this section were expended.  If the commissioner finds that more funding is needed to support additional regional collaboratives, the commissioner may request additional funding at that time.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Of the provisions of Sec. 5 of this act:

(1)  16 V.S.A. § 1073(c), except for (c)(4), shall take effect on July 1, 2005; and

(2)  16 V.S.A. § 1073(a) and (c)(4) shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

(b)  Sec. 8 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2005.  However:

(1)  In school year 2005-2006, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 1.00.

(2)  In school year 2006-2007, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.95.

(3)  In school year 2007-2008, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.90.

(4)  In school year 2008-2009, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.85.

(5)  In school year 2009-2010, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.80.

(6)  In school year 2010-2011 and each year thereafter, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.75.

(c)  All remaining sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2005.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us