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HOUSE PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT 2007-2008

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S.93

An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education law

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  By striking Secs. 3 and 3a in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 

Sec. 3.  [Deleted.]

Sec. 3a.  [Deleted.]

Second:  By adding a new section to be Sec. 6a to read:

Sec. 6a.  16 V.S.A. § 823(a) 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 district shall pay the full tuition charged its students attending a public elementary school.  However, if 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.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection or of subsection 825(b) of this title, the boards of both the receiving and sending districts may enter into tuition agreements with terms differing from the provisions of those subsections, provided that the receiving district must offer identical terms to all sending districts, and further provided that the statutory provisions apply to any sending district that declines the offered terms.

Third:  By striking Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 8 to read:

Sec. 8.  [Deleted.]

Fourth:  By striking Sec. 10 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 10 to read:

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 4028(c) is amended to read: 

(c)  Any district which has adopted a school budget that includes excess spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its excess spending penalty in obtaining an education operations consultant, as follows:  The district may employ a consultant for recommendations on how to reduce its future education spending, and the department of education shall pay the consulting costs from the property tax revenue to be generated by the excess spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  “Timely notice” for this purpose means written notice from the district to the commissioner within 60 days after the budget is adopted.  The consultant may not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain consulting funds under this section more often than once every five years.

(c)(1)  Any district that has adopted a school budget which includes high spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its high spending penalty to reduce future education spending as follows:

(A)  By entering into a contract with an education operations or budget consultant.

(B)  By entering into a contract with an energy or facilities management consultant.

(C)  By engaging in discussions with other school districts about reorganization or consolidation for better service delivery at a lower cost. 

(2)  To the extent approved by the commissioner, the department shall pay the district from the property tax revenue to be generated by the high spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  For the purposes of this subsection, “timely notice” means written notice from the district to the commissioner by September 30 of the budget year.  If the district enters into a contract with a consultant pursuant to this subsection, the consultant shall not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations or a copy of the district’s recommendations regarding reorganization, as appropriate, shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s or district’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain funds under this section more than once in every five years.

Fifth:  By striking Sec. 12 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 12 to read:

Sec. 12.  SCHOOL DISTRICTS; ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING HIGH SPENDING

(a)  The commissioner of education shall explore and analyze the reasons school districts exceed the excess spending threshold defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) and develop recommendations for exempting school districts from the consequences of exceeding the excess spending threshold in the following circumstances:

(1)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has recommended ways to lower the costs, the district has followed the recommendations, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(2)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has been unable to identify ways to lower the costs, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(3)  The district pays tuition for all or most of its students to attend one or more schools outside the district and the commissioner determines that it is not possible for the district to make alternative arrangements that would enable it to stay beneath the high spending threshold.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the commissioner shall file a report with the house and senate committees on education and on appropriations regarding the recommendations required by this section.  The report shall include a detailed fiscal analysis of the recommendations and related draft legislation.  It shall also include an analysis of the effectiveness of 16 V.S.A. § 4028(c), which permits high spending districts to hire a budget consultant with money paid as a consequence of exceeding the threshold.

Sixth:  By striking Sec. 13 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof two new sections to be Secs. 13 and 13a to read:

Sec. 13.  16 V.S.A. § 2975 is added to read:

§ 2975.  UNUSUAL SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS; FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The commissioner may use up to two percent of the funds appropriated for special education expenditures, as that term is defined in subsection 2967(b) of this title, to directly assist school districts with special education expenditures of an unusual or unexpected nature.  These funds shall not be used for exceptional circumstances that are funded under section 2963a of this title.  The commissioner’s decision regarding a district’s eligibility for and amount of assistance shall be final.

Sec. 13a.  REPEAL

Sec. 9(a) of No. 117 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (financial assistance for unusual special education costs), as amended by Sec. 18 of No. 107 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is repealed.

Seventh:  By striking Sec. 16 in its entirety and adding six new sections to be Secs. 16‑21 to read:

Sec. 16.  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 11th day through the 31st day 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 before 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.  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.

Sec. 17.  16 V.S.A. § 4010(h) is added to read:

§ 4010.  DETERMINATION OF WEIGHTED MEMBERSHIP

* * *

(h)  On December 1 each year, the commissioner shall determine the equalized pupil count for the next fiscal year for district review.  The commissioner shall make any necessary corrections on or before December 15, on which date the count shall become final for that year.

Sec. 18.  STATEWIDE NETWORK FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

(a)  The department of education shall examine, analyze, and make recommendations concerning a process by which the state could develop a statewide, managed network offering shared, high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities to all Vermont schools through accredited, online course offerings from nationally recognized distance learning schools and through Vermont‑based distance learning courses.

(b)  The department shall present its analysis and recommendations in the form of a report to the general assembly on or before January 1, 2008.  The report shall:

(1)  Explain the impediments that have prevented the creation of this network and describe how the department would overcome these impediments.

(2)  Outline in detail a process by which the department would create a network of high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities for all Vermont schools, which would include:

(A)  A professional development program to improve the skills of Vermont educators in creating course offerings and overseeing the distance learning system.

(B)  A warehouse of content‑based, electronic resources for educators.

(C)  Shared infrastructure services such as e‑mail, content filtering, spam filtering, and security services.

(3)  Include a detailed fiscal analysis of the funding required for initial and ongoing implementation of the proposed network, including proposed sources of funding.

(4)  Include a detailed timeline for implementation.

Sec. 19.  PREGNANT AND PARENTING PUPILS ATTENDING TEEN PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS

(a)  Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a school district of residence shall make the following payments for a publicly funded pregnant or parenting pupil attending a teen parent education program: 

(1)  The school district shall pay the teen parent education program 83 percent of the base education payment for the year of attendance prorated based on the pupil’s full‑time equivalent enrollment, as defined by state board rule, in academic courses at the teen parent education program.

(2)  If the district of residence does not maintain a school, the otherwise qualified pregnant or parenting pupil may enroll in any public school or approved independent school (the “enrolling school”) in which any other legal pupil in the district of residence may enroll at public expense.  In this situation, the district of residence shall reimburse the enrolling school for coordinating the pregnant or parenting pupil’s education plan at the teen parent education program and for planning and facilitating the pupil’s subsequent education plan and transition to the enrolling school, at a rate of 17 percent of the base education payment for the year in which the pupil attends the teen parent education program.

(b)(1)  The pregnant or parenting pupil must be enrolled in a school maintained by the school district of residence or, if the district does not maintain a school, enrolled at a public school or an approved independent school at the district’s expense. 

(2)  The teen parent education program must be recognized by the department for children and families.

(3)  As determined by the district of residence or by the enrolling school if the district does not maintain a school, the pupil must be taking academic courses at the teen parent education program that are the substantial equivalent of the courses required by the district of residence or enrolling school, as applicable, to obtain a high school diploma.  The sending district or enrolling school, as applicable, will collaborate with the teen parent education program regarding the pupil’s programs and progress.

(4)  In the event of a dispute, the pupil, the teen parent education program, the district of residence, or the enrolling school may request a ruling from the commissioner of education which shall be final.

(5)  On or before January 8, 2008, the commissioner of education shall report to the house and senate committees on education regarding information gathered from the teen parent education programs and recommendations for future legislation.  The report shall include an overview of the pupils served, current funding mechanisms, and a description of the academic resources offered by the programs.  The report shall also include data regarding the pupils’ educational success rates, including the number of pupils taking academic courses at the teen parent programs, the number of courses taken by the pupils, the number of pupils who remain in the program and the number who drop out, the number of pupils who return to the school in their district of residence or to the enrolling school, and the number of pupils who obtain a high school diploma or GED after receiving services at the teen parent education center.

Sec. 20.  Sec. 168a of No. 122 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) is amended to read:

Sec. 168a.  SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION; TRANSITION AID;
       APPROPRIATION SUNSET

(a)  In its first year of operation After voter approval of the establishment of a union, unified union, or interstate school district, the commissioner of education shall pay to a joint contract, the board of the union, unified union, or interstate school district which began operation during or after school year 2003‑2004 a facilitation grant of five percent of the base education payment amount in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(13) based on October 1 enrollment for that year the combined enrollment of the participating districts on October 1 of the year in which the successful vote was taken or $150,000.00, whichever is less, from the education fund.  The funds grant shall be in addition to funds received under 16 V.S.A. § 4028 and for districts beginning operation during or after school year 2004‑2005 shall be paid in thirds in the same manner that other state education aid is paid under that section

(b)  This section shall sunset on June 30, 2008 2010.

Sec. 21.  EFFECTIVE DATES; SUNSET

(a)  Sec. 19 shall take effect on July 1, 2007 and shall remain in effect until July 1, 2008.

(b)  All other 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