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S.159

AN ACT RELATING TO UPDATING AND CLARIFYING EDUCATION LAW

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

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 165(a)(2)(K) is amended to read:

(K)  data provided by the commissioner which enable a comparison with other schools, or school districts if school level data are not available, for cost-effectiveness.  The commissioner shall establish which data are to be included pursuant to this subdivision and, notwithstanding that the other elements of the report are to be presented in a format selected by the school board, shall develop a common format to be used by each school in presenting the data to community members.  The commissioner shall provide the most recent data available to each school no later than October 1 of each year. Data to be presented may include student-to-teacher ratio, administrator-to-student ratio, administrator-to-teacher ratio, and cost per pupil, cost per square foot of building, class sizes, course offerings, and other performance data.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 426(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The town treasurer shall be treasurer of the town school district unless, by vote of the town school district a town school district treasurer is elected. He or she shall keep in a separate bank account all the money appropriated or given for the use of the school district.  Within 20 days after the date the school taxes become due and payable or within such other period of time as may be agreed upon in writing by both the board of selectmen and the board of school directors, he or she shall deposit in the school account, payments of the school tax levy received.  However, if notification of the amount to be transferred to the school district by the commissioner has not been received within 20 days of the date taxes are due and payable, the transfer shall be effected within 20 days of notification by the commissioner.

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 559(e)(7) is amended to read:

(7)  nothing in this section shall require a school board or supervisory union board to invite or advertise for bids if it is renewing a contract entered into pursuant to subsection (a) of this section provided that annual costs will not increase more than the most recent Cumulative Price Index New England Economic Project cumulative price index, as of December 1 November 15, for state and local government purchases of goods and services, the total amount of the contract does not exceed an increase of 30 percent more than the total amount of the original contract, and the contract for the renewal period allows termination by the board following an annual review of performance.

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 562(8) is amended to read:

(8)  Shall vote authorize at each annual school district meeting a sum of money necessary an amount of money from all revenue sources to be expended by the board for the support of public schools; and the board shall determine how the voted authorized funds shall be expended;

Sec. 5.  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 and the average daily membership count submitted by the district to the department of education under subdivisions 4001(1)(A) and (B) of this title.  However, 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 and the average daily membership count pursuant to that section.  The school board may authorize an audit in conjunction with another school district or a supervisory union.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 706m is amended to read:

§ 706m.  TERMS OF OFFICE; ELIMINATION OF OFFICE OF AUDITOR

(a)  The terms of office of directors and auditors shall be three years after the first term and of all other officers one year.  At the first annual meeting one auditor shall be elected for a term of one year, one auditor for a term of two years, and one for a term of three years, or until their successors are chosen and qualified.

(b)  At any annual or special meeting warned for the purpose, the electorate may vote to eliminate the office of auditor and to employ instead a public accountant annually to audit the financial statements of the union school district.

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 823 is amended to read:

§ 823.  ELEMENTARY TUITION

(a)  Tuition for elementary pupils shall be paid by the district in which the pupil is a resident.  The tuition paid to a public elementary school shall be at a rate not greater than the calculated net cost per elementary pupil in average daily membership in the receiving school district for the year of attendance The district shall pay the full tuition charged its students attending a public elementary school.  However, if a payment made to a public elementary school is three percent more or less than the calculated net cost per elementary pupil in the receiving school district for the year of attendance, the district shall be reimbursed, credited, or refunded pursuant to section 836 of this title, unless otherwise agreed to by the boards of both the receiving and sending districts.

(b)  The tuition paid to an approved independent elementary school shall not exceed the lesser of:  (1) the average announced tuition of Vermont union elementary schools for the year of attendance; or (2) the tuition charged by the public elementary independent school attended by the greatest number of the district’s pupils.  However, the electorate of a school district may authorize the payment of a higher amount at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 824(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Except as otherwise provided for technical students, the district shall pay the full tuition charged its pupils attending a public high school in Vermont or an adjoining state, or a public or independent school in Vermont functioning as an approved area technical center, or an independent school meeting school quality standards.  However, if a payment made to a public high school or an independent school meeting school quality standards is three percent more or less than the calculated net cost per secondary pupil in average daily membership in the receiving school district for the year of attendance then the district shall be reimbursed, credited, or refunded pursuant to section 836 of this title, unless otherwise agreed to by the boards of both the receiving and sending districts or independent schools.

Sec. 9.  16 V.S.A. § 825(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Calculated net cost per pupil for purposes of this chapter shall be defined by the commissioner.  Expenditures shall include those for equipment and school building construction, additions or renovations.  Expenditures excluded shall be:

(1)  Transportation costs incurred by the receiving school district for its resident pupils;

(2)  Transportation costs for which the receiving school district receives reimbursement;

(3)  That portion of the total cost which is provided by direct grants from state or federal sources for salaries or other specific expenses;

(4)  Expenditures for maintenance, and payments of principal and interest for buildings used exclusively for boarding students if any;

(5)  Expenditures for special education;

(6)  Tuition payments for technical education.

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 836(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Annually, on or before November 1, the commissioner shall inform each school board of a receiving public school, each board of trustees of a receiving approved independent school for which the commissioner has calculated a net cost per pupil, and each sending school district in Vermont of the calculated net cost per elementary or secondary pupil in the receiving schools.  Each school board or board of trustees of a receiving school shall then determine whether it overcharged or undercharged any sending district for tuition charges and shall notify the district by December 15 of the same year of the amount due or the amount to be refunded or credited.

Sec. 11.  16 V.S.A. § 1552(c) is amended to read:

(c)  For students from a school district within Vermont, funds received under subsections subsection 1561(b) and (c) of this title shall be subtracted when calculating the tuition charge.  For students who are not Vermont residents, funds received under subsections 1561(b) and (c) of this title shall not be subtracted when calculating the tuition charge.

Sec. 12.  16 V.S.A. § 1561(a) is amended to read:

(a)  For the purpose of reducing the amount of tuition charged to Vermont residents under section 1552 of this title, technical centers shall receive assistance as provided in this section.  In this section,:

(1)  “Student” means a Vermont secondary student without a diploma regardless of age and regardless of whether the student is enrolled in a high school in Vermont; and

(2)  “Full-time equivalent student” means the average of a Vermont school district’s three prior years’ full-time equivalent enrollment of students in the technical center.

Sec. 13.  16 V.S.A. § 1593 is amended to read:

§ 1593.  SECONDARY STUDENTS IN POSTSECONDARY TECHNICAL

             PROGRAMS

A secondary technical student may be enrolled in postsecondary technical courses at the expense of the student’s school district of residence if the enrollment is accepted by the postsecondary institution and approved by the district of residence as being in the best interests of the student, and if the enrollment is approved for credit toward high school graduation requirements.  The school board awarding graduation credits shall consider the recommendation of the regional advisory board, regional technical center school district board, or any other authorized alternate governing board and shall provide an opportunity for the secondary student also to receive postsecondary credit.

Sec. 14.  16 V.S.A. § 2904 is amended to read:

§ 2904.  REPORTS

Annually, each superintendent shall report to the commissioner in a form prescribed by the commissioner, on the status of the educational support systems in each school in the supervisory union.  The report shall describe the services and supports that are a part of the education support system, how they are funded, and how building the capacity of the educational support system has been addressed in the school action plans.  The report shall include a description and justification of how the following funds were used:

(1)  as required under subsection 2959a(e) of this title, funds received due to Medicaid reimbursement under section 2959a of this title were used;

(2)  for a school district required to provide learning readiness experiences for preschool age children or early reading and math experiences for school age children pursuant to subsection 4011(d) of this title, funds attributable to an increase in student count due to the poverty ratio of the district and the number of students with limited English proficiency.

Sec. 15.  16 V.S.A. § 2957(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Except as provided in 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(10)(C) or unless a court or hearing officer determines otherwise, where a unilateral placement has been made without the school district of residence being offered a reasonable opportunity to evaluate the child and to develop an individualized education plan, reimbursement may not be sought for any costs incurred before the school district is offered such an opportunity.

Sec. 16.  16 V.S.A. § 4011(a) and (c) are amended to read:

(a)  Annually, the general assembly shall appropriate funds to pay for an adjusted education payment for each equalized pupil statewide education spending and a portion of a base education payment for each adult diploma student and student or client in the adult education and literacy program.

(c)  Annually, each school district shall receive an adjusted education spending payment for support of education costs.  Funds distributed under this section shall be allocated on the basis of the equalized pupils in each school district, except for unorganized towns and gores.  An unorganized town or gore shall receive an amount equal to its adjusted education payment for that year for each student based on the weighted average daily membership count which shall not be equalized.  If the district’s adjusted education payment is less than the base education payment, then in fiscal years 2005 and 2006 only, the district shall receive its education spending per equalized pupil plus 40 percent of the excess of the base education payment over the district’s adjusted education payment, but only for deposit in a district’s education reserve fund, authorized in accord with section 2804 of Title 24, for expenditure on legitimate items of education expense.  In fiscal years 2007 and after, no district shall receive more than its education spending amount.

Sec. 17.  16 V.S.A. § 252(1)(B)(viii) is amended to read:

(viii)  Drug sales, including delivery or sale to minors:  selling on school grounds, selling or dispensing under sections 4230(b), 4231(b), 4232(b), 4233(b), 4234(b), 4235(c), 4235a(b), and 4237 of Title 18.

Sec. 18.  TUITION OVERCHARGE STUDY; COMMISSIONER OF

               EDUCATION

The commissioner of education shall study the amounts of announced tuition charged by public schools and how these amounts relate to the calculated net costs per pupil.  On or before January 15, 2006, the commissioner shall make a recommendation to the Senate and House committees on education concerning methods to ensure that the announced tuition will more accurately reflect the calculated net cost per pupil.  One of the methods considered by the commissioner shall be a cap on the amount that a receiving district may charge to reconcile the difference between the two amounts.

Sec. 19.  TRANSITION TO FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF ACT 130;

               FUNDING OF UNION AND UNIFIED UNION SCHOOL

              DISTRICTS

(a)  In this section, “municipality” has the same meaning as in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(9).

(b)  In fiscal year 2007, union and unified school districts shall not receive funds under 16 V.S.A. § 4011(c) and shall divide the amount that would otherwise be received under that section in the proportion which the union district’s equalized pupil count from the associated municipality bears to the total number of the union district’s equalized pupil count for that year.  The board of directors of a union district shall present an estimate of the amount to be divided at an annual meeting.  Following a vote to adopt the budget, the board of directors shall compute the share of each member district or associated municipality and give notice of the amount to the legislative branch of the member district or municipality.  Upon receipt by the member district or municipality of the notice of the share in the union or unified district expenses, the share shall become a legal obligation of the member district or municipality without need for further vote of the member district or municipality electorate.  Notwithstanding 16 V.S.A. § 706j(a)(8), in fiscal year 2007, a union school district board of directors may borrow money pending receipt of payments from the member districts or associated municipality by the issuance of its notes or orders payable not later than one year from date.

(c)  In fiscal year 2007, education spending as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(6) shall include any assessment for a union school.

(d)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 5402(a)(2) and (3), for fiscal year 2007, the homestead property tax rate for a municipality which is a member of a union or unified union school district shall not be calculated as required under subsection 5402(e) of Title 32.

Sec. 20.  LAKE CHAMPLAIN REGIONAL TECHNICAL CENTER

              SCHOOL DISTRICT; TRANSFER OF FUNDS

(a)  Reallocation.  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, all capital appropriations made in prior legislative sessions to the department of buildings and general services for use by the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, the Chittenden Workforce Investment Board, or the Lake Champlain Regional Technical Center School District (“LCRTCSD”) that remain in any LCRTCSD account shall be transferred to the department of buildings and general services on or before July 15, 2005.  Of the amount transferred, the department shall disburse the sum of $10,000.00 to the Chittenden South Supervisory Union Board as fiscal agent for the purpose of providing consulting services to the steering committee created in subsection (b) of this section.

(b)  Steering committee.  There is created a steering committee to develop a vision for providing technical education in the Chittenden County service region and to determine if a new planning committee should be created under the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 1572.  The steering committee shall consist of the following members:  the superintendent of schools for the Chittenden South Supervisory Union who shall serve as chair, a member of the Burlington board of school commissioners to be selected by that board, a member of the Essex Union # 46 High School Board to be selected by that board, a high school principal from the service area selected by the commissioner of education in consultation with the principals in the technical center service region, one member selected by the Chittenden Workforce Investment Board, one member selected by the Franklin-Grand Isle Workforce Investment Board, and two teachers chosen by the commissioner of education, one from the Burlington Technical Center and one from the Center for Technology – Essex.  The director of the Burlington Technical Center and the director of the Center for Technology – Essex shall serve as nonvoting members of the steering committee. 

(c)  Access to records and information.  The LCRTCSD shall ensure that all of its records and information relating to its work are made available to the steering committee and comply with all requirements relating to the disposition of public records.

(d)  Recommendations.  On or before November 30, 2005, the steering committee shall provide specific recommendations for implementing its vision, including the process for creating a new planning committee under the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 1572, if necessary, to the school boards and superintendents for each of the high schools in the region.  It shall submit copies of the recommendations to the house and senate committees on education and on institutions, the commissioners of education and of buildings and general services, the Franklin-Grand Isle Workforce Investment Board, and the Chittenden Workforce Investment Board. 

(e)  Oversight.  The commissioner of education shall monitor the steering committee’s work and shall approve all expenditures of the sums reallocated to the committee in subsection (a) of this section. 

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us