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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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S.93

Introduced by Committee on Education

Date:

Subject:  Education; miscellaneous and technical changes

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to make technical corrections and other miscellaneous changes to Title 16, including:  eliminating the words “joint contract districts” from the definition of school district; requiring gender and date of birth to be included in enrollment reporting statistics; requiring school boards to solicit three or more bids for all items and services exceeding $15,000.00 rather than only for certain specified ones; clarifying that when the board may choose either of the two lowest contract bids that are within one percent of each other, the one percent is calculated on the base amount and not on cost overruns; removing the requirement that a superintendent notify the commissioner within 10 days of the date a school board member is elected; clarifying 16 V.S.A. § 824 regarding tuition payments; providing transportation assistance to districts transporting their technical education students to a satellite location; clarifying salary assistance for technical centers so that centers with full-day students and centers with half-day students are treated equally; repealing permission to use some of the excess spending penalty to hire a consultant; inserting a date certain by which the commissioner must make the determination of a district’s excess spending; eliminating the penalty for extremely small districts that tuition all their students when they exceed the excess spending limit solely as a result of new special education costs; extending the sunset until 2010 on assistance for schools to deal with unusual special education costs; extending the sunset until 2010 on 50 percent construction aid for school consolidation; and repealing obsolete language.

AN ACT RELATING TO MISCELLANEOUS CHANGES TO EDUCATION LAW

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

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 11(10) is amended to read:

(10)  “School district” means town school districts, union school districts, interstate school districts, joint contract districts, city school districts, unified union districts, and incorporated school districts.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 166 is amended to read:

§ 166.  APPROVED AND RECOGNIZED INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

* * *

(b)  Approved independent schools.  On application, the state board shall approve an independent school which offers elementary or secondary education if it finds, after opportunity for hearing, that the school provides a minimum course of study and that it substantially complies with the board's rules for approved independent schools.  Except as provided in subdivision (6) of this section subsection, the board's rules must at minimum require that the school has the resources required to meet its stated objectives, including financial capacity, faculty who are qualified by training and experience in the areas in which they are assigned, and physical facilities and special services that are in accordance with any state or federal law or regulation.  Approval may be granted without state board evaluation in the case of any school accredited by a private, state or regional agency recognized by the state board for accrediting purposes.

* * *

(4)  Each approved independent school shall provide to the commissioner on October 1 of each year the names, genders, dates of birth, and addresses of its enrolled pupils.  Within seven days of the termination of a pupil's enrollment, the approved independent school shall notify the commissioner of the name and address of the pupil.  The commissioner shall forthwith notify the appropriate school officials as provided in section 1126 of this title.

* * *

(c)  Recognized independent schools.  Upon filing an enrollment notice a recognized independent school may provide elementary or secondary education in Vermont.  The enrollment notice shall be on a form provided by the commissioner and shall be filed with the commissioner no earlier than three months before the beginning of the school year for the public schools in the town in which the applicant proposes to locate.

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(6)  Each recognized independent school shall provide to the commissioner on October 1 of each year the names, genders, dates of birth, and addresses of its enrolled pupils.  Within seven days of the termination of a pupil's enrollment, the recognized independent school shall notify the commissioner of the name and address of the pupil.  The commissioner shall forthwith notify the appropriate school officials designated in section 1126 of this title.

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

(a)  When the cost exceeds $15,000.00.  A school board or supervisory union board shall publicly advertise or invite three or more bids from persons deemed capable of providing items or services if costs are in excess of $15,000.00 for any of the following:

(1)  the construction, purchase, lease, or improvement of any school building;

(2)  the purchase or lease of any item or items required for supply, equipment, maintenance, repair, or transportation of students; or

(3)  a contract for transportation, maintenance, or repair goods or services.

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 559(c)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  A contract for any property, construction, good or service to be obtained pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bid conforming to specifications.  However, when considering the base contract amount and without considering cost overruns, if the two lowest responsible bids are within one percent of each other, the board may award the contract to either bidder.  A board shall have the right to reject any bid found not to be responsible or conforming to specifications or to reject all bids.

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 561 is amended to read:

§ 561.  CERTIFICATION OF ELECTION OF SCHOOL BOARD

            MEMBERS, OATH, CHAIRMAN CHAIR, CLERK

Within ten days of the date a school board member is elected, the superintendent shall notify the commissioner.  School directors shall be sworn before entering upon the duties of their office.  At the meeting next following the election of a school board member, the school board shall elect one of their number chairman chair and one other of their number clerk.  The clerk may be paid upon order of the school board.  He The clerk shall keep a permanent record of the proceedings of the school board.  In his the clerk’s absence another member of the school board shall assume his the clerk’s duties.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 824 is amended to read:

§ 824.  HIGH SCHOOL TUITION 

(a)  Tuition for high school pupils shall be paid by the school district in which the pupil is a resident.

(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 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 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.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection or of subsection 825(b) of this title, the boards of both the receiving and sending districts or independent schools 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.

(c)  For students in grades 7 and 8, the district shall pay an amount not to exceed the average announced tuition of Vermont union high schools for students in grades 7 and 8 for the year of attendance for its pupils enrolled in an approved independent school not functioning as a Vermont area technical center, or any higher amount approved by the electorate at an annual or special meeting warned for that purpose.  For students in grades 9-12 7–12, the district shall pay an amount not to exceed the average announced tuition of Vermont union high schools for students in grades 9-12 7–12 for the year of attendance for its pupils enrolled in an approved independent school not functioning as a Vermont area technical center, or any higher amount approved by the electorate at an annual or special meeting warned for that purpose.

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 1563(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Transportation assistance shall be paid from the education fund to school districts which provide transportation to and from technical centers education programs, regardless of whether the program is offered in a technical center in their the district’s designated service region or regions or is offered within the technical center region at a location other than at a technical center.  Assistance shall be $1.50 per mile for actual number of miles traveled, in 1998 dollars adjusted annually by the annual price index for state and local government purchases of goods and services.  Payments shall be made on or before December 10 and June 10.  Requests submitted on or following May 15 shall be reimbursed in the next payment.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 1565(a) is amended to read:

§ 1565.  SALARY ASSISTANCE

(a)  The state board shall reimburse a school district operating a technical center for a portion of its cost in paying the salary of the following persons:

(1)  the director of technical education;

(2)  a person whose principal duty is to provide guidance services for technical students;

(3)  a person whose principal duty is to find job training opportunities for students during the time they are enrolled at the technical center; and

(4)  an adult services coordinator;

(5)  an assistant director of technical education, if the technical center has an full-time equivalent enrollment of at least 300 150 and the sending school population is at least 30 percent of the technical center’s total full-time equivalent enrollment.

Sec. 9.  16 V.S.A. § 4011(c) is amended to read:

(c)  Annually, each school district shall receive an education spending payment for support of education costs.  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. 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.  [Repealed.]

Sec. 11.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(12)(B) is amended 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);

(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.

Sec. 12.  32 V.S.A. § 5402(a) is amended to read: 

(a)  A statewide education tax is imposed on all nonresidential and homestead property at the following rates:

(1)  the tax rate for nonresidential property shall be $1.59 per $100.00; and

(2)  the tax rate for homestead property shall be $1.10 multiplied by the district spending adjustment for the municipality, per $100.00, of equalized education property value as most recently determined under section 5405 of this title.  The homestead property tax rate for each municipality which is a member of a union or unified union school district shall be calculated as required under subsection (e) of this section; provided, however, the district spending adjustment shall not be included in the calculation of tax rate for a district with a total of 20 or fewer students that does not maintain an elementary or high school, in any year in which the district’s spending exceeds 125 percent of the statewide average district spending pursuant to subdivision 5401(12) of this chapter solely as a result of new special education spending.

Sec. 13.  Sec. 9(a) of No. 117 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000), as amended by Sec. 18 of No. 107 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is further amended to read:

(a)  In fiscal years 2002 through 2006 2010, 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 Title 16 for the purpose of directly assisting school districts with special education expenditures of an unusual or unexpected nature.  These funds shall not be used for exceptional circumstances which are funded under section 2963a of Title 16.  A decision of the commissioner as to eligibility for assistance and amount of assistance received shall be final.

Sec. 14.  Sec. 49 of No. 68 of the Acts of 2003, as amended by Sec. 54 of No. 121 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is further amended to read:

Sec. 49.  CONSTRUCTION AID FOR SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION;
               SUNSET

(a)  Notwithstanding 16 V.S.A. § 3448(a)(7)(A) which provides 30 percent construction aid for school buildings, the amount of an award shall be 50 percent of the approved cost of a project or applicable portion of the project, provided that, as determined by the commissioner of education:

(1)  the project consolidates school buildings within a school district in a more cost-effective and educationally appropriate manner; or

(2)  the initial construction or initial renovation project is an integral part of the formation of a joint contract or union district that is designed to serve the educational needs of the participating districts in a more cost-effective and educationally appropriate manner than would individual projects constructed separately. 

(b)  This section shall apply only to a project which has received preliminary approval by June 30, 2008 2010 and which is eventually approved and funded pursuant to section 3448 of Title 16.

Sec. 15.  REPEAL

16 V.S.A. § 513 (district-authorized discount for person pre-paying education tax) is repealed.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us