Download this document in MS Word format
BILL AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE 2007-2008

AutoFill Template

S.93

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.

* * *

(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.

* * *

Sec. 3.  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. 4.  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. 5.  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.


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.

(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 operational efficiency consultant or a financial systems consultant to examine issues such as transportation arrangements, administrative costs, staffing patterns, and the potential for collaboration with other districts.

(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 one time in every five years.

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.  HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX RATE; DISTRICTS PAYING
  TUITION FOR VERY SMALL NUMBER OF PUPILS; SPECIAL
  EDUCATION COSTS

When calculating the homestead property tax rate pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5402(a)(2), the district spending adjustment shall not include excess spending in any district with a total of 20 or fewer equalized pupils that does not maintain an elementary or high school, in any year in which the district’s excess spending was solely attributable to new special education spending.

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. 14.  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.

Sec. 15.  REPEAL

16 V.S.A. § 513 (district‑authorized discount for person pre‑paying education tax) is repealed.

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 30th 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. § 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 11th day through the 30th day first 40 days of the school year in which school is actually in session; and

(B)  the full‑time equivalent enrollment in the year before 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.  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. 18.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Sec. 16 shall take effect on July 1, 2007.

(b)  Sec. 17 shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

Sec. 19.  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. 20.  DISTRICT MEMBERSHIP COUNT; DEPARTMENT PROPOSAL

The department of education shall develop a system for determining the school district membership count based on samplings conducted on at least one day in the autumn and one day in the spring, which shall be ready for implementation in the autumn of 2008.  Long‑term membership, as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(7), shall be determined by averaging the counts of the four most recent sample periods.  In developing the system, the department shall consult with the Vermont superintendents association, the Vermont school boards association, and the Vermont association for school business officials.   On or before January 15, 2008, the department shall report to the house and senate committees on education regarding the system it has developed and request any necessary legislative amendments, including transitional language. 


Sec. 21.  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.  The department shall also consider ways in which such a network could be developed through collaboration within and among supervisory unions.

(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.

(5)  Outline ways in which a similar network could be developed, through collaboration within and among supervisory unions, by using and enhancing existing technology and systems. 

Sec. 22.  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 between 75 and 85 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 between 15 and 25 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. 23.  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. 24.  24 V.S.A. § 1896(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Adjustment upon reappraisal.  In the event of a reappraisal of 20 percent or more of all parcels in the municipality, the value of the original taxable property in the district shall be changed by a multiplier, the denominator of which is the municipality’s education property tax grand list for the property within the district in the year prior to the reappraisal or partial reappraisal and the numerator of which shall be the municipality’s reappraised or partially reappraised education property tax grand list for the property within the districtIn such a district, the The state education property tax revenues for the district in the first year following a townwide reappraisal or partial town‑wide reappraisal shall not be less than the dollar amount of the state education property tax revenues  in the prior year.

Sec. 25.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) is amended to read:

(12)  “Excess spending” means:

(A)  the per‑equalized 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)  a budget deficit in a district that pays tuition to a public school for all of its students in one or more grades in any year in which the deficit is solely attributable to tuition paid 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.

Sec. 26.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Sec. 12 shall take effect on passage.

(b)  Sec. 22 shall take effect on July 1, 2007 and shall remain in effect until July 1, 2008.

(c)  Sec. 24 of this act shall take effect retroactively, as of July 1, 2006.

(d)  Sec. 25 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007 and shall apply to budgets approved for the 2007‑2008 academic year and after.

(e)  Except as explicitly provided in subsections (a), (b), (c), and (d) of this section and in Sec. 18 of this act, all 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