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S.289

Introduced by   Senator Wilton of Rutland District, Senator Coppenrath of Caledonia District, Senator Mullin of Rutland District and Senator Starr of Essex-Orleans District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Education; early childhood education; appropriation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require elementary schools to include strategies to promote school readiness for at-risk children in their action plans; to authorize a school district to establish an early childhood education program by contracting with existing early childhood service providers or to create its own program if there are not enough qualified private providers in the region; to establish standards and a process for approving a public early education program; to allow a school district to draw a portion of an education payment for provision of early education services to children at risk for school failure; and to 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 EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

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 for children at risk of school failure.  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)  In this section:

(1)  “Eligible student” means a child who lives in a household which is at or below 185 percent of poverty, who has a learning disability, or for whom English is a second language.

(2)  “ Qualified service provider” means an entity which has:

(A)  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

(B)  received:

(i)  at least three stars under the Vermont step ahead recognition program;

(ii)  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; or

(iii)  certification from the commissioner that the program provides quality services pursuant to standards and a process adopted by the state board and commissioner for children and families by joint rule.

(3)  “Qualified teacher” means a teacher licensed under subdivision 164(5) of this title or a teacher who has received a child development associate credential from the council for early childhood professional recognition.  A “qualified teacher” also means a person who operates a day care facility or family day care home which has received at least three stars under the Vermont step ahead recognition program.

(b)  A school district may maintain an approved public       early childhood education program.  The district shall maintain the program by entering into a contract with one or more qualified service providers or by becoming a qualified service provider after following the provisions of subsection (h) of this section, or both.

(c)  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 qualified teacher is present.

(d)  The commissioner shall count an eligible 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.  When entering into a contract with a qualified service provider, a school district shall agree to pay to the qualified provider for 10 hours per week of service for a school year at least 80 percent of the funds received on behalf of the student.  The district may prorate the amount paid for fewer hours or for less than a full school year of service.

(e)  A school board may charge the parent or guardian of a child who is not an eligible student for early childhood education services.  A school board shall not charge the parent or guardian of an eligible student for early childhood education services for the first 10 hours of early childhood education services.  The board may charge for services 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. 

(f)  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.

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

(h)  When starting or expanding a public early childhood education program, a school district shall enter into a contract with all existing public and private qualified service providers in the geographic region, as defined by the state board.  However, the district shall not be required to enter into a contract with a qualified provider if the provider is not interested in providing the services in collaboration with the school district.  The district shall not establish its own early education service unless there are not enough qualified early education providers to fill the need for early childhood education in the district.

(i)  A parent or guardian residing in a school district having an approved early childhood education program may apply to send a qualified 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 (b) of this section, the parent or guardian may request that the school district negotiate a contract with the provider.

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

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(c) is amended to read:

(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; or

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

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, 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)  in the case of a preschool program, one full-time equivalent pupil for each child receiving 10 or more hours a week of services, and as one multiplied by the number of hours of service per week divided by 10, for each child receiving fewer than 10 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. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(15) and (16) are added to read:

(15)  “Part-day kindergarten” means a kindergarten program which offers at least 10 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 an eligible child enrolled in an approved public early childhood education program maintained by a school district pursuant to section 829 of this title, enrolled in early intervention services through the Vermont family, infant and toddler program, or enrolled in an essential early education program.

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.  33 V.S.A. § 3502(d) is amended to read:

(d)  Regulations pertaining to day care facilities and family day care homes shall be designed to insure that children in day care facilities and family day care homes are provided with wholesome growth and educational experiences, and are not subjected to neglect, mistreatment, or immoral surroundings.  A family day care home shall make reasonable accommodations to serve children with disabilities unless the accommodations would impose an undue hardship on the caregiver or on the business.

Sec. 10.  EXPANSION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

               PROGRAMS; 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 in one or more of the following:

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

(2)  in collaboration with the early childhood council, 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, 2007, 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 funds are needed to support additional regional collaboratives, the commissioner may request additional funding at that time.

Sec. 11.  SUNSET

The provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 829(a)(2)(iii) shall be repealed on July 1, 2031.  The legislative council is authorized to amend generally subdivision 829(a)(2) at that time as necessary to make it grammatically correct.

Sec. 12.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Sec. 8 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.  However:

(1)  In school year 2007–2008, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 1.00.

(2)  In school year 2008–2009, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.95.

(3)  In school year 2009–2010, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.90.

(4)  In school year 2010–2011, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.85.

(5)  In school year 2011–2012, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.80.

(6)  In school year 2012–2013 and each year thereafter, a child attending a part-day kindergarten shall receive a weight of 0.75.

(b)  All remaining sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us