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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.864

Introduced by Committee on Education

Date:

Subject:  Education; miscellaneous education bill

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to make miscellaneous amendments to education laws including:

(1)  Amending an erroneous cross-reference in 16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(30);

(2)  Acknowledging that not all school districts use town auditors;

(3)  Amending 16 V.S.A. § 563(11)(C) to reflect changes enacted in No. 130 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006);

(4)  Amending the date by which independent schools must publish tuition increases;

(5)  Clarifying grammatical confusion in 16 V.S.A. § 828;

(6)  Permitting Guildhall to pay tuition to public elementary schools in New Hampshire;

(7)  Amending 16 V.S.A. § 1071 to emphasize that regional calendars are developed by superintendents and observed by all public schools in the region; amending 16 V.S.A. § 4003(a) to clarify that state aid may be withheld for noncompliance with a regional calendar; and repealing Secs. 2 and 3 of No. 31 of the Acts of 2007 establishing a committee to develop a statewide calendar;


(8)  Clarifying and amending 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C) regarding how to calculate the number of prekindergarten children a district may include in its average daily membership; and amending an erroneous reference in § 4001(15);  

(9)  Changing the term “base education payment” to “base education amount” and clarifying that it is an amount used to calculate tax rates and is not a block grant or payment;

(10)  Repealing three separate, nonconflicting statutory amendments to the definition of “excess spending,” that were enacted last session and erroneously published as three separate, nonintegrated definitions; and reenacting the entire definition by incorporating those three amendments and making other clarifications;  

(11)  Updating the years during which state law is amended to comply with federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act;

(12)  Amending session law enacted last year that suspends state aid for school construction to address two unintended consequences: 

(A)  Allowing a district to seek and receive preliminary approval from the commissioner of education for the sole purpose of subtracting approved construction spending from the calculation of excess spending; and

(B)  Excluding the years during which the suspension is in effect from the determination of whether amounts deposited in a reserve fund have been used within five years; and

(13)  Codifying existing session law regarding regional school choice for students in grades 9 through 12.

AN ACT RELATING TO MAKING MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS TO EDUCATION LAW

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

* * * Hazing; Erroneous Cross-Reference * * *

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(30) is amended to read:

(30)(A)  “Hazing” means any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with an educational institution; and which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of a student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts.  Hazing may occur on or off the campus of an educational institution.  Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

(1)(i)  the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

(2)(ii)  the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

(B)  The definitions of educational institution, organization, pledging, and student shall be the same as those in section 151 140a of this title.

* * * Supervisory Unions; Required Reports * * *

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 261a(10) is amended to read:

(10)  submit to the town auditors of each member school district, or to the person authorized to perform the duties of an auditor for the school district, on or before January 15 of each year, a summary report of financial operations of the supervisory union for the preceding school year, an estimate of its financial operations for the current school year, and a preliminary budget for the supervisory union for the ensuing school year.  This requirement shall not apply to a supervisory district.  For each school year, the report shall show the actual or estimated amount of state aid for special education awarded to the supervisory union, including the amount generated by, and the amount allocated to each school district within the supervisory union;


* * * School District Budget * * *

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 563(11)(C) is amended to read: 

(C)  At a school district’s annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the school budget required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the budget.  If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district’s annual meeting.  The proposed budget shall be prepared and distributed at least ten days before a sum of money is voted on by the electorate.  Any proposed budget shall show the following information in a format prescribed by the commissioner of education:

(i)  all revenues from all sources and expenses, including as separate items any assessment for a union school district or a supervisory union of which it is a member, and any tuition to be paid to a technical center;

(ii)  the specific amount of any deficit incurred in the most recently closed fiscal year and how the deficit was or will be remedied;

(iii)  the anticipated homestead tax rate and the percentage of household income used to determine income sensitivity in the district as a result of passage of the budget; including those portions of the tax rate attributable to the union school and supervisory union assessments; and

(iv)  in the case of a school district:

(I)  other than a union school district, the definition of “education spending,” the number of pupils and number of equalized pupils in the school district, and the district’s education spending per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and in each of the prior three years; or

(II)  in the case of a union school district, the amount of the assessment to each of the member districts and the amount of the assessments per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and for the past three years.

* * * Tuition; Timing; Approved Independent Schools;

Approved Tutorial Programs * * *

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 826(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A school board, or the board of trustees of an independent school meeting school quality standards which proposes to increase tuition charges shall notify the school board of the school district from which its nonresident pupils come, and the commissioner, of the proposed increase on or before February 1 January 15 in any year; such increases shall not become effective without the notice and not until the following school year.

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 828 is amended to read:

§ 828.  TUITION TO APPROVED SCHOOLS, AGE, APPEAL

A school district shall not pay the tuition of a pupil except to a public or school, an approved independent school or, a tutorial program approved by the state board, or an independent school in another state or country approved under the laws of that state or country, nor shall payment of tuition on behalf of a person be denied on account of age.  Unless otherwise provided, a person who is aggrieved by a decision of a school board relating to eligibility for tuition payments, the amount of tuition payable, or the school he or she may attend, may appeal to the state board and its decision shall be final.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 835 is amended to read:

§ 835.  LEMINGTON, BLOOMFIELD, BRUNSWICK, MAIDSTONE, GRANBY, AND GUILDHALL; TUITIONING OF ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

The school boards of the towns of Lemington, Bloomfield, Brunswick, Granby, Guildhall, and Maidstone school districts may provide for the elementary education of the pupils residing in their districts by paying tuition to public elementary schools in the state of New Hampshire.  Notwithstanding the provisions of section 823 of this title, school boards districts affected by this section shall pay the full tuition charged by a public elementary school in New Hampshire.

* * * School Calendar * * *

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 1071(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Regional Technical center service region calendar.  Before April 1 of each year, the superintendents of schools and the headmasters of public schools not managed by school boards in an area in a technical center service region, the headmaster of an approved independent school functioning as an approved area technical center, and the director of a regional technical center school district, if either exists in the technical center service region, shall meet, and by majority vote, establish a uniform calendar to be observed by all school districts within that area the region for the following school year.  The calendar shall include student attendance days, periods of vacation, holidays and, teacher in-service education days, and provisions for transportation of students attending a technical center in the region and shall comply with subsection (a) of this section.  Unless permitted by the commissioner, no area served by a regional technical center shall be divided into two or more calendar regions.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 4003(a) is amended to read:

(a)  No school district shall receive any aid under this chapter unless that school district complies with the provisions of law relative to teachers’ salaries, appointment of superintendents, detailed financial reports to the state department of education, uniform technical center service region calendars, and any other requirements of law.

Sec. 9.  REPEAL

Secs. 2 and 3 of No. 31 of the Acts of 2007 (statewide school calendar; committee; effective date) are repealed.


* * * Prekindergarten Students;

Average Daily Membership Limitations * * *

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C) is amended to read:

(C)  The full-time equivalent enrollment for each prekindergarten child as follows:  If a child is enrolled in 10 or more hours of prekindergarten education per week or receives 10 or more hours of essential early education services per week, the child shall be counted as one full-time equivalent pupil. If a child is enrolled in six or more but fewer than 10 hours of prekindergarten education per week or if a child receives fewer than 10 hours of essential early education services per week, the child shall be counted as a percentage of one full-time equivalent pupil, calculated as one multiplied by the number of hours per week divided by ten.  A child enrolled in prekindergarten education for fewer than six hours per week shall not be included in the district’s average daily membership.  Although there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services, the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited as follows:

(i)  All children receiving essential early education services may be included.

(ii)  Of the children enrolled in prekindergarten education offered by or through a school district who are not receiving essential early education services, the greater of the following may be included:

(I)  ten children; or

(II)  the number resulting from:

(aa)  one plus the average annual percentage increase or decrease in the district’s first grade enrollment as counted in the census period of the previous five years; multiplied by

(bb)  the most immediately previous year’s first grade census average daily membership count for the previous year; or

(III)  the total number of four-year-olds in the district one-fifth of the total number of children in grades 1-5 who are included in the district’s average daily membership for the previous year; or

(IV)  the total number of children enrolled in the prekindergarten program or programs who are eligible to enter kindergarten in the district in the following academic year

Sec. 11.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(15) is amended to read:

(15)  “Prekindergarten child” means a three- or four-year-old child who is enrolled in a prekindergarten program offered by or through a public school district pursuant to rules adopted under section 829 of this title or who is receiving essential early education services offered pursuant to section 2956 of this title.  Prekindergarten child also means a five-year-old child who otherwise meets the terms of this definition if that child is not yet eligible for or enrolled in kindergarten.

* * * Base Education Payment; Base Education Amount * * *

Sec. 12.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(13) is amended to read:

(13)  “Base education payment amountmeans is a number used to calculate tax rates.  The base education amount is $6,800.00 per equalized pupil, adjusted as required under section 4011 of this title. 

Sec. 13.  CONSISTENT USE OF TERM

Pursuant to its statutory revision authority at 2 V.S.A. § 424, the legislative council is directed to change the phrase “base education payment” wherever it appears in the Vermont Statutes Annotated tobase education amount.”

* * * Excess Spending * * *

Sec. 14.  REPEAL

Secs. 11 and 25 of No. 66 of the Acts of 2007 and Sec. 21 of No. 82 of the Acts of 2007 (three, nonconflicting amendments that are currently published independently and are consolidated in Sec. 15 of this act) are repealed.

Sec. 15.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) is added to read:

(12)  “Excess spending” means:

(A)  the per-equalized pupil amount of:

(i)  the district’s education spending, plus any amount required to be added from a capital construction reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804(b); minus

(ii)  the portion of education spending which is approved school capital construction spending or deposited into a reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804 to pay future approved school capital construction costs, including that portion of tuition paid to an independent school designated as the public high school of the school district pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 827 for capital construction costs by the independent school which has received approval from the state board of education, using the processes for preliminary approval of public school construction costs pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 3448(a)(2); and minus

(iii)  the portion of education spending attributable to the district’s share of special education spending for each child for whom that spending is in excess of $50,000.00 in the fiscal year occurring two years prior; and minus; 

(iv)  that portion of a budget deficit in a district that pays tuition to a public or approved independent school for all of its students in one or more grades in any year in which the portion of the deficit is solely attributable to tuition paid in the fiscal year occurring two years prior for one or more new students who moved into the district after the budget for the year creating the deficit was passed;

(B)  in excess of 125 percent of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in the prior fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education on or before November 15 of each year based on the passed budgets to date.   

* * * Adequate Yearly Progress * * *

Sec. 16.  Secs. 13 and 14 of No. 182 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) are amended to read:

Sec. 13.  Sec. 2 of No. 64 of the Acts of 2003, as amended by Sec. 2 4 of No. 114 of the Acts of 2004 the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) is amended to read:

Sec. 2.  COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS; MEASURING

             ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS TOWARD ACHIEVING

             STATE STANDARDS; CONSEQUENCES

16 V.S.A. § 165 authorizes the commissioner of education to determine how well schools and students are meeting state standards every two years and to impose certain consequences if schools are failing to meet standards after specific time periods.  Notwithstanding the provisions of that section, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, during school years 2003–2004 through 2006–2008 20082009, the commissioner is authorized to determine whether schools and school districts are meeting state standards annually and the state board of education is authorized to impose on schools and school districts consequences allowed in state law and required by the Act within the time frame required in the Act.  However, consistent with Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Sec. 9527 of the No Child Left Behind Act, neither the state nor any subdivision thereof shall be required to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the Act in order to comply with the provisions of the Act.  The state or any subdivision thereof may expend other funds for activities they were already conducting consistent with the Act, or for activities authorized in a state or local fiscal year 2004 budget.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law and to avoid having federal law cause state and local governments to absorb the cost of unfunded mandates.

Sec. 14.  Subsections (b), (c), and (e) of Sec. 3 of No. 64 of the Acts of 2003, as amended by Sec. 2 5 of No. 114 of the Acts of 2004 the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) are amended to read:

(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. §§ 1075(e), 1093, and 1128(b) which stipulate that a child of parents who become homeless shall be educated in the school district in which the child is found and that a school district may choose not to accept nonresident pupils, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the provisions of this section shall apply to children who are homeless during school years 2003–2004 through 2006-2008 20082009.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law.

(c)  If a child becomes homeless during school year 2005–2006, 2006–2007, or 2007–2008, or 2008–2009, the child shall either be educated:  in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or for the remainder of the academic year if the child becomes permanently housed outside the district of origin; or in the school district in which the child is actually living.  The determination as to which school the child shall attend shall be made by the school board of the school district in which the child is living according to the best interests of the child. 

(e)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(A) which stipulate that a pupil must be a legal resident of the district attending a school owned and operated by the district in order to be counted in the average daily membership of the district, during the 2003–2004 through 2006–2008

20082009 school years, a child who is homeless during the census period shall be counted in the school district or districts in which the child is enrolled.  However, if at any time a homeless child enrolls, pursuant to this section, in a school district other than the district in which the child was counted, the district in which the child is enrolled shall become responsible for the education of the child, including payment of education services and, if appropriate, development and implementation of an individualized education plan.

* * * Construction Aid Suspension; Unintended Consequences for Excess Spending; Unintended Consequences for Non-Use of Reserve Funds * * *

Sec. 17.  Sec. 36(c) and (d) of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 are added to read:

(c)  Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, if a school district declares its intent to pay for the cost of a school construction project without state aid provided pursuant to chapter 123 of Title 16 and has received voter approval for the project on or after March 7, 2007, then the commissioner of education shall review the project as a preliminary application upon the district’s request.  In this case, the commissioner shall use the standards and processes of chapter 123 for determining preliminary approval, and shall deduct the portion of education spending that is approved from the calculation of excess spending under 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12).  Preliminary approval received pursuant to this subsection is to be used solely for purposes of calculating whether the district has exceeded the excess spending threshold and does not indicate that the district will receive state aid for school construction or preliminary approval for that aid when school construction aid is again available.

(d)  No year during which state aid for school construction is suspended under this act shall be included within the department’s determination under 24 V.S.A. § 2804(b) of whether amounts deposited in a reserve fund have been used within five years of deposit.  

* * * Codification of Existing Session Law * * *

Sec. 18.  CODIFY EXISTING SESSION LAW RELATING TO REGIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS IN GRADES 9 THROUGH 12 

Pursuant to its statutory revision authority in 2 V.S.A. § 424, the legislative council is directed to codify Secs. 1 and 2 of No. 150 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (regional school choice for public school students in grades 9 through 12) as amended by No. 182 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) (repealing the date on which the original act was scheduled to be repealed).  Act 150, as amended, shall be codified as 16 V.S.A. §§ 1621–1622 in a new chapter 41 entitled “Chapter 41.  Public High School Choice.”

* * * Effective Dates * * *

Sec. 19.  EFFECTIVE DATES

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.  Sec. 4 shall apply to tuition rates established for the 2009–2010 academic year and after.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us