Title 16: Education
Chapter 9: SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Sub-Chapter 4: Other Provisions
16 V.S.A. § 563. Powers of school boards; form of vote if budget exceeds benchmark and district spending is above average
§ 563. Powers of school boards; form of vote if budget exceeds benchmark and district spending is above average
The school board of a school district, in addition to other duties and authority specifically assigned by law:
(1) Shall determine the educational policies of the school district. Board policies shall be of general application to the district, shall be in writing, codified, and made available to the public. Board policies shall be adopted at regular or special school board meetings. A school board shall give public notice of its intent to adopt a board policy, stating the substance of the proposed policy, at least ten days prior to its adoption. A school board may also approve or disapprove rules and regulations proposed by the principal or superintendent for the conduct and management of public schools in the district.
(2) May take any action, which is required for the sound administration of the school district. The commissioner, with the advice of the attorney general, upon application of a school board, shall decide whether any action contemplated or taken by a school board under this subdivision is required for the sound administration of the district and is proper under this subdivision. The commissioner's decision shall be final.
(3) Shall have the possession, care, control and management of the property of the school district, subject to the authority vested in the electorate or any school district official.
(5) Shall keep the school buildings and grounds in good repair, suitably equipped, insured and in safe and sanitary condition at all times. The school board shall regulate or prohibit firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons on school premises. At a minimum, a school board shall adopt and implement a policy at least consistent with section 1166 of this title and 13 V.S.A. § 4004, relating to a student who brings a firearm to or possesses a firearm at school.
(6) Shall have discretion to furnish instruction to pupils who have completed a secondary education and to administer early educational programs.
(7) May relocate or discontinue use of a schoolhouse or facility, subject to the provisions of sections 821 and 822 of this title.
(8) Shall establish and maintain a system for receipt, deposit, disbursement, accounting, control, and reporting procedures that meets the criteria established by the state board pursuant to subdivision 164(15) of this title and that ensures that all payments are lawful and in accordance with a budget adopted or amended by the school board. The school board may authorize a subcommittee, the superintendent of schools, or a designated employee of the school board to examine claims against the district for school expenses and draw orders for such as shall be allowed by it payable to the party entitled thereto. Such orders shall state definitely the purpose for which they are drawn and shall serve as full authority to the treasurer to make such payments. It shall be lawful for a school board to submit to its treasurer a certified copy of those portions of the board minutes, properly signed by the clerk and chair, or a majority of the board, showing to whom, and for what purpose each payment is to be made by the treasurer, and such certified copy shall serve as full authority to the treasurer to make the payments as thus approved.
(9) Shall establish with the advice and consent of the auditor of accounts and the commissioner, a system of accounts for the proper control and reporting of school district finances and for stating the annual financial condition of the school district.
(10) Shall prepare and distribute to the electorate, not less than ten days prior to the district's annual meeting, a report of the conditions and needs of the district school system, including the superintendent's, supervisory union treasurer's, and school district treasurer's annual report for the previous school year and the balance of any reserve funds established pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2804. At a school district's annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the report required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the report. 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 or special meeting.
Subdivision (11) shall apply to budgets for fiscal years 2010 (school year 2009-2010) through 2014 (school year 2013-2014) only.
(11)(A) Shall prepare and distribute annually a proposed budget for the next school year according to such major categories as may from time to time be prescribed by the commissioner.
(B) If the proposed budget contains education spending in excess of the Maximum Inflation Amount, and the district's education spending per equalized pupil in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the budget is proposed was in excess of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in that same fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education, then in lieu of any other statutory or charter form of budget adoption or budget vote, the board shall present the budget to the voters by means of a divided question, in the form of vote provided in subdivision (ii) of this subdivision (11)(B).
(i) "Maximum Inflation Amount" in this section means:
(I) the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil, as defined in subdivision 4001(6) of this title, in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the budget is proposed, as determined by the commissioner of education, multiplied by the New England Economic Project Cumulative Price Index percentage change, as of November 15 preceding distribution of the proposed budget, for state and local government purchases of goods and services for the fiscal year for which the budget is proposed, plus one percentage point; plus the district's education spending per equalized pupil in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the budget is proposed, as determined by the commissioner of education;
(II) multiplied by the higher of the following amounts as determined by the commissioner of education: (aa) the district's equalized pupil count in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the budget is proposed; or (bb) the district's equalized pupil count in the fiscal year for which the budget is proposed.
(ii) The ballot shall be in the following form:
"The total proposed budget of $______ is the amount determined by the school board to be necessary to support the school district's educational program. State law requires the vote on this budget to be divided because (i) the school district's spending per pupil last year was more than the statewide average and (ii) this year's proposed budget is greater than last year's budget adjusted for inflation.
"Article #1 (School Budget):
Part A. Shall the voters of the school district authorize the school board to expend $ ______, which is a portion of the amount the school board has determined to be necessary?
Part B.If Part A is approved by the voters, shall the voters of the school district also authorize the school board to expend $______, which is the remainder of the amount the school board has determined to be necessary?"
(C) At a school district's annual or special 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 supervisory union of which it is a member and any tuition to be paid to a technical center; and including the report required in subdivision 242(4)(D) of this title itemizing the component costs of the supervisory union assessment;
(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 supervisory union assessments; and
(iv) 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.
(12) Shall employ such persons as may be required to carry out the work of the school district pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 242(3) of this title.
(14) Shall provide, at the expense of the district, subject to the approval of the superintendent, all text books, learning materials, equipment and supplies.
(15) Shall exercise the general powers given to a legislative branch of a municipality.
(16) May execute contracts on behalf of the school district, including contracts providing for binding arbitration, by its chair or any person designated whose appointment is recorded in the minutes of the board.
(19) Shall allow any high school student, who meets the academic requirements of the high school, to graduate and receive a diploma in less than four years.
(20) Shall establish policies and procedures designed to avoid the appearance of board member conflict of interest.
(21) Shall have the authority to engage in short-term borrowing to cover the costs of those portions of projects approved by the state board and which will be reimbursed by the state board under sections 3447-3456 of this title but which payments will be delayed. However, the board shall borrow under this subdivision only amounts which it would receive if the state board could fund its obligation and may borrow no earlier than the time it would have received the funds. The state shall not pay for costs of borrowing funds under this subdivision.
(22) May apply for grants and may accept and expend grants or gifts. The board shall include, in its annual report, a description of all grants or gifts accepted during the year and associated expenditures.
(23) May, at the expense of the district, present informational materials to the electorate on any matter to be voted. However, such materials shall be limited to those that are reasonably designed to inform, educate and explain to the electorate the board's position on the matter.
(24) Shall adopt a policy which, in accordance with rules adopted by the state board of education, will integrate home study students into its schools through enrollment in courses, participation in cocurricular and extracurricular activities and use of facilities.
(25) Shall, if it is a school board of a school district which maintains a secondary school, upon request, award a high school diploma to any Vermont resident who served in the military in World War II, the Korean War, or during the Vietnam era, was honorably separated from active federal military service, and does not hold a high school diploma. The state board shall develop and make available an application form for veterans who wish to request a high school diploma.
(26) Shall carry out the duties of a local education agency, as that term is defined in 20 U.S.C. § 7801(26), for purposes of determining pupil performance and application of consequences for failure to meet standards and for provision of compensatory and remedial services pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §§ 6311-6318.
(27) Annually, shall inform each secondary student and the student's parents or guardians of the right to opt out of the federal requirement that student contact information be provided to military recruiters or institutions of higher education pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 7908(a). A school board shall enable the secondary student and the student's parents or guardians to disallow provision of student contact information to either military recruiters or institutions of higher education, while allowing provision of information to the other. For purposes of this subdivision, "secondary student" means a pupil in grade 9, 10, 11, or 12.
(28) Annually, shall inform students and their parents or guardians of their options for school choice under applicable laws or policy.
(29) Shall assign an employee to annually:
(A) inform parents of students with life-threatening allergies and life-threatening chronic illnesses of applicable provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other applicable federal statutes, state statutes, federal regulations, and state rules;
(B) inform appropriate school staff of their responsibilities; and
(C) provide necessary training to carry out these responsibilities.
(30) May make available school facilities and equipment for specified public purposes if such purposes appear, in the judgment of the board, to be in the best interests of the district and are an efficient, economical, and appropriate use of the facilities and equipment.
(31) Subject to the requirements of section 571 of this title, may enter into contracts with other school boards to provide joint programs, services, facilities, and professional or other staff. Nothing herein shall be construed to permit the designation by a school district that does not maintain a secondary school of another school district's secondary school as the secondary school of the district.
(32) May enter into a contract or contracts with a school offering a distance learning program that is approved by one or more accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or is approved in Vermont pursuant to subdivision 166(b)(6) of this title. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 40; amended 1971, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.); 1975, No. 48, § 6, eff. April 15, 1975; 1977, No. 33, § 1; 1979, No. 5; 1985, No. 71, § 3; 1987, No. 15, § 1; 1987, No. 68, § 5; 1987, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 1989, No. 143 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1989, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1989, No. 202 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1991, No. 103, §§ 1, 2; 1991, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1995, No. 35, § 2; 1995, No. 62, § 62, eff. April 26, 1995; 1995, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 2, 3; 1995, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 7a, 7b, 68, eff. May 22, 1996; 1997, No. 83 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1997, No. 119 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 27, 1998; 1999, No. 62, § 158b; 1999, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1999, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 277; 2001, No. 8, § 5; 2001, No. 118 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2003, No. 36, §§ 5, 19; 2003, No. 68, § 48, eff. June 18, 2003; 2003, No. 75 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 114 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2003, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. July 1, 2005; 2005, No. 54, § 5; 2005, No. 127 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 25; 2007, No. 23, § 1; 2007, No. 82, § 5; 2009, No. 44, §§ 4, 6, 8, 9, eff. May 21, 2009; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 11, 12, eff. June 3, 2010; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 21c; 2011, No. 58, § 1, eff. May 31, 2011; 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 23, 24, eff. July 1, 2013.)