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S.141

Introduced by   Senator Maynard of Rutland District, Senator Mullin of Rutland District, Senator Shepard of Bennington District and Senator Wilton of Rutland District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Education; public school choice

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to continue and expand the public school choice program that was begun in school year 2002 to include all grades; to stipulate that the receiving school would receive funds for the child transferring; and to remove the cap on the number of students who may participate.

AN ACT RELATING TO CONTINUATION AND EXPANSION OF PUBLIC 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 establish a system in Vermont which enables parents to enroll their children in the public school which best suits the individual needs of the child, while providing a gradual transition to the school choice system.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 822(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The school board may both maintain a high school and furnish high school education by paying tuition to a public school as in the judgment of the board may best serve the interests of the pupils, or to an approved independent school if the board judges that a pupil has unique educational needs that cannot be served within the district or at a nearby public school.  Its judgment shall be final in regard to the institution independent school the pupils may attend at public cost.

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 827 is amended to read:

§ 827.  DESIGNATION OF AN INDEPENDENT HIGH SCHOOL AS THE

PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL OF A SCHOOL DISTRICT

(a)  A school district not maintaining an approved public high school may vote on such terms or conditions as it deems appropriate, to designate an approved independent school as the public high school of the district.

(b)  When the board of trustees of such school votes to accept this designation the school shall be regarded as a public school for tuition purposes and the school district shall pay tuition to the school only, until such time as the school district or the board of trustees of the school votes to rescind the designation.

(c)  A parent or guardian who is dissatisfied with the instruction provided at the school or who cannot obtain for his the parent’s or guardian’s child the kind of course or instruction desired there, or whose child can be better accommodated in an approved independent high school nearer his the child’s home, may request the school board to pay tuition to another approved independent high school.

(d)  The school board may pay tuition to another approved independent high school as requested if in its judgment that will best serve the interests of the pupil.  Its decision shall be final in regard to the institution independent school the pupil may attend. 

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 1093 is amended to read:
§ 1093.  NONRESIDENT PUPILS

The board may receive into the schools under its charge nonresident pupils from Vermont school districts not maintaining a school or from outside Vermont under such terms and restrictions as it deems best and money received for the instruction of such pupils shall be paid into the school fund of the district.  Pursuant to the terms and conditions of section 1096 of this title, the board shall also receive into the schools under its charge nonresident pupils who apply to transfer from other Vermont school districts under that section.

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 1096 is added to read:

§ 1096.  PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE

(a)  Subject to the provisions of this section, a Vermont resident who is a parent or legal guardian of a legal pupil in a school district that maintains a school in the pupil’s grade level may enroll the child in any Vermont public school in the same grade level.  If a pupil reaches the age of majority or is emancipated in accordance with law, the rights accorded the parents or guardians under this section transfer to the pupil.

(b)  A Vermont public school shall accept nonresident pupils under this section on a nondiscriminatory basis, and it may not charge tuition for the pupil. 

(c)  Each public school shall determine its capacity to accept pupils beyond the capacity necessary to meet the needs of its resident pupils and shall annually review and redefine its capacity limits.  The commissioner shall develop guidelines for consideration by the boards in defining capacity limits.  Guidelines may include limits based on the capacity of the program, class, grade, school building, or measurable adverse financial impact.  Guidelines shall allow a school to accept nonresident tuition-paying pupils who are not applying under this section prior to determining whether a school has the capacity to accept additional nonresident pupils.

(d)  If a school receives applications in excess of its defined capacity limits,  the board shall devise a nondiscriminatory lottery system for determining which pupils will be accepted. 

(e)  A school is not required to provide services to a student during a period of suspension or expulsion imposed in another school district.

(f)  If a student who is eligible for and receiving special education services enrolls in a school district other than the district of residence under this section, the school district of residence shall be the local education agency responsible for establishing the individualized education plan, ensuring that it is carried out, and paying for special education costs.  However, the receiving school district may charge only actual special education costs or actual proportionate costs attributable to the pupil.  The state board shall apply rules adopted under subsection 826(d) of this title to these charges.

(g)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a receiving school district to provide transportation to a pupil attending a school under this section.

(h)  An enrolled nonresident student shall be permitted to remain enrolled in the nonresident 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.

(i)  The state board of education shall adopt rules as necessary to implement this section, including rules which describe procedures for applying for enrollment into a district under this section.  At a minimum, the rules shall provide for:

(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 pupil of acceptance or rejection of the application by April 1 of the school year preceding the school year for which the pupil is applying.

(3)  A requirement that the pupil notify the sending and receiving schools of a decision to enter the receiving school district by April 15 of the school year preceding the school year for which the pupil has applied.  Following notification, the pupil may enter a school other than the receiving school only if the pupil, receiving school, and school to which the pupil wishes to transfer agree.  However, if the pupil becomes a resident of a different school district, the pupil may enroll in the school of the new district of residence at the time of the move.

(4)  If a pupil enrolled in a receiving school district notifies the school  district of residence by July 15 of the intent to return to that school the following school year, the pupil enrolled shall be permitted to return to the public school in the district of residence without acquiring agreement of the receiving district and the sending district.

Sec. 6.  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 nonresidents attending a school owned and operated by the district pursuant to section 1096 of this title, 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. 7.  TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

Notwithstanding 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(A), during the first two years of public school choice under this act, the full-time equivalent enrollment for a student enrolled in a nonresident school district pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 1096 shall be divided under subdivision 4001(1)(A) as follows:

(1)  In school year 2006-2007, two-thirds to the sending school district and one-third to the receiving school district.

(2)  In school year 2007-2008, one-half to the sending school district and one-half to the receiving school district. 

Sec. 8.  REPEALS; EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  The following are repealed on June 30, 2006:

(1)  16 V.S.A. § 821(c), relating to payment of tuition for elementary school pupils.

(2)  No. 150 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000), relating to public school choice in grades 9-12.

(b)  This act shall take effect for school year 2006-2007.  However, the state board of education shall begin the process for adopting rules under 16 V.S.A. § 1096 whenever necessary to ensure the rules are in place in time to implement the act.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us