As Passed by House and Senateh.711
AS PASSED BY HOUSE AND SENATEH.711
AN ACT RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL, FORESTRY, AND HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION; ANIMAL DISSECTION; THE REPEAL OF BURDENSOME REPORTS; STREAMLINING THE FORMATION OF UNION DISTRICTS; DISTRICTS THAT PAY TUITION FOR ALL STUDENTS; AND OTHER CHANGES TO EDUCATION LAW
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
* * * Agricultural, Forestry, and Horticultural Education * * *
Sec. 1. INTENT
It is the intent of Secs. 1–3 of this act to enhance the ability of regional technical centers and secondary schools in Vermont to teach and prepare students for careers in agriculture, forestry, and horticulture and to determine what steps are necessary to prepare the next generation for involvement in these sectors of Vermont’s economy.
Sec. 2. FINDINGS
The general assembly finds that:
(1) Education and training are essential to meeting the goals of No. 38 of the Acts of 2007, pertaining to the viability of Vermont agriculture.
(2) There is currently an absence of statewide oversight and coordination of agriculture, forestry, and horticulture (AF&H) education and training.
(3) There is a teacher crisis in secondary and postsecondary AF&H education because the pool of applicants is not adequate to replace retiring faculty, some of whom have more than 40 years of experience.
(4) Careers in the AF&H fields:
(A) provide business opportunities while taking advantage of Vermont’s natural assets;
(B) benefit local economies due to the multiplier effect of local investment; and
(C) provide opportunities for young Vermonters to remain in the state.
(5) In order for Vermont to capitalize on opportunities in the AF&H fields, comprehensive and effective postsecondary education and training are needed.
(6) It is critical to understand the current system, methods, and curriculum of educating students in the AF&H fields before taking additional steps toward that end.
Sec. 3. AGRICULTURAL, FORESTRY, AND HORTICULTURAL
(a) The agency of agriculture, food and markets and the department of education shall jointly perform a needs assessment on AF&H education in secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont and provide recommendations for technical assistance for existing programs.
(b) A report of the needs assessment required in subsection (a) of this section shall be delivered to the house and senate committees on agriculture and on education, the house committee on institutions and corrections, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs by January 15, 2009. The report of the needs assessment shall include discussion and recommendations relating to the following:
(1) The ability of secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont to prepare students for AF&H careers.
(2) The effectiveness of the organizational structures of secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont in providing AF&H education.
(3) The reasons why some secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont do not provide AF&H education.
(4) The opportunities for and barriers to AF&H career paths.
(5) Options for providing statewide leadership on AF&H technical and curriculum support.
(6) An assessment of postsecondary teacher degree and certification programs or opportunities at Vermont institutions of higher learning.
(7) The role organizations such as FFA, the Vermont youth conservation corps, FEED (food education every day), Foodworks, NOFA (northeast organic farming association), and 4-H perform in support of AF&H education.
(8) The opportunities to enhance AF&H education through collaboration of secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.
(c) The secretary of the agency of agriculture, food and markets and the commissioner of education shall propose funding needed to support the intent of this act in their respective budgets for FY 2010.
(d) Resources utilized in preparing the report required in subsection (b) of this section shall include:
(1) current and retired instructors;
(2) regional technical center directors and administrators of the community high school of Vermont;
(3) secondary schools and regional technical centers with existing AF&H education programs;
(4) postsecondary schools including Vermont Technical College
(5) the workforce training council and the department of labor;
(6) other northeastern states where similar efforts are being made and models have been created.
(7) the department of corrections
(8) the Vermont youth conservation corps
(e) The report required in subsection (b) of this section shall also include a summary of the agency of agriculture, food and markets’ and the department of education’s efforts to implement the provisions of Sec. 4 of No. 201 of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006).
* * * Animal Dissection * * *
Sec. 4. 16 V.S.A. § 912 is added to read:
§ 912. PUPIL’S RIGHT OF REFUSAL; ANIMAL DISSECTION
(a) A student in a public elementary or secondary school or an approved independent school shall have the right to be excused from participating in any lesson, exercise, or assessment requiring the student to dissect, vivisect, or otherwise harm or destroy an animal or any part of an animal, or to observe any of these activities, as part of a course of instruction.
(b) Each school district and approved independent school shall adopt and implement policies regarding a student’s right to be excused under this section, which shall include:
(1) Procedures by which the school shall provide:
(A) Timely notification to each student enrolled in the course and to the student’s parent or guardian of the student’s right to be excused from participating in or observing the lesson; and
(B) The process by which a student may exercise this right.
(2) Alternative education methods through which a student excused under this section can learn and be assessed on material required by the course.
(3) A statement that no student shall be discriminated against based on his or her decision to exercise the right to be excused afforded by this section.
(c) As used in this section, the word “animal” means any organism of the kingdom animalia and includes an animal’s cadaver or the severed parts of an animal’s cadaver.
Sec. 5. PUPIL’S RIGHT OF REFUSAL; ANIMAL DISSECTION
On or before August 15, 2008, each school district and approved independent school shall develop and implement procedures pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 912(b), created in Sec. 4 of this act, which shall be adopted as policy within the district or approved independent school no later than November 1, 2008.
* * * Unnecessary, Duplicative, and Burdensome Reports; Repeal * * *
Sec. 6. REPEAL; MANDATED REPORTING
The following are repealed:
(1) 16 V.S.A. § 164(8) (state board of education’s biennial report to the legislature regarding its activities and including the commissioner’s report).
(2) 16 V.S.A. § 216(c)(2) (commissioner’s annually updated and published list of school and community programs that have the potential to improve childhood wellness).
(3) 16 V.S.A. § 1165(f) (school district’s annual report to the commissioner regarding alcohol and drug abuse in the district).
(4) 16 V.S.A. § 1165(g) (commissioner’s annual report to the alcohol and drug abuse council regarding the progress of alcohol and drug abuse education in the schools).
(5) 16 V.S.A. § 1422(d) (superintendent’s annual report to the department regarding results of hearing and vision tests).
(6) Sec. 121a(d) of No. 71 of the Acts of the 1997 Adj. Sess. (1998) (annual report from the department and others to the legislature regarding the status of technical education pilot projects).
(7) Sec. 3(b) of No. 150 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) as amended by Sec. 21 of No. 182 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) (commissioner’s report concerning initial implementation of regional high school choice).
(8) Sec. 156(c) of No. 152 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (department’s annual report regarding special education cost-containment initiatives).
(9) 16 V.S.A. § 2177(d) (the Vermont state colleges’ biennial report to the legislature regarding its activities).
(10) 16 V.S.A. § 2281(c) (the university of Vermont president’s biennial report to the legislature regarding the activities of the university and the state agricultural college).
(11) 16 V.S.A. § 2322 (the state agricultural college dean’s biennial submission of the estimated budget for the college’s research station and a statement of federal and other available funding).
(12) 16 V.S.A. § 2536 (the university of Vermont and state agricultural college trustees’ annual report to the legislature and the governor concerning the work of its units, including receipts, disbursements, resources, and liabilities).
(13) 16 V.S.A. § 2856(g) (adjutant general’s annual report to the legislature regarding educational loan programs for national guard members).
(14) Sec. 90 of No. 60 of the Acts of 1997 as amended by Sec. 33 of No. 49 of the Acts 1999 (repeal of legislative oversight committee on restructuring education and assumption of the committee’s duties by standing legislative committees).
(15) Sec. 71(f) of No. 68 of the Acts of the 2002 Adj. Sess. (2003) as amended by Sec. 1 of No. 4 of the Acts of 2005 of No. 4 of the Acts of 2005 (annual report of the council on education governance to the legislature regarding its progress and any recommendations for legislation necessary to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act).
(16) Sec. 168a(c) of No. 71 of the Acts of 2005 (commissioner issues a request for proposals, chooses grant recipients, determines the amounts to be awarded to each recipient, and monitors the progress of each grant recipient for fiscal year 2006; annual report by the council on education governance to the legislature regarding its progress and recommendations for legislative change).
Sec. 7. 16 V.S.A. § 165(a)(2) is amended to read:
(2) The school, at least annually, reports student performance results to community members in a format selected by the school board. In the case of a regional technical center, the community means the school districts in the service region. The school report shall include:
(A) information indicating progress toward meeting standards from the most recent measure taken;
(B) information about the health and social well-being status of children in the school district;
(C) information indicating progress toward meeting the goals of an annual action plan;
(D) any other statistical information about the school or community that the school board deems necessary to place student performance results in context;
(E) information about early reading instruction provided under subsection 2903(c) of this title;
(F) early care and education opportunities available to children;
(G) community support available to families;
(H) a description of how the school ensures that each student receives appropriate career counseling and program information regarding availability of education and apprenticeship program offerings at technical centers;
(I) if the school is a secondary school, data describing student participation in technical education, regional job opportunities and the number of graduates from the previous year who have entered postsecondary education, the military and the job market;
(J) if the school is a secondary school, information and supporting data presented in a manner designed to protect student confidentiality on the following:
(i) student attendance, including unexcused absences;
(ii) student discipline; and
(iii) if the school is a secondary school, the dropout and graduation rates; and
(K) data provided by the commissioner which enable a comparison with other schools, or school districts if school level data are not available, for cost-effectiveness. The commissioner shall establish which data are to be included pursuant to this subdivision and, notwithstanding that the other elements of the report are to be presented in a format selected by the school board, shall develop a common format to be used by each school in presenting the data to community members. The commissioner shall provide the most recent data available to each school no later than October 1 of each year. Data to be presented may include student-to-teacher ratio, administrator-to-student ratio, administrator-to-teacher ratio, and cost per pupil.
Sec. 8. 16 V.S.A. § 909(b) is amended to read:
(b) The department of education shall:
(1) provide for pre-service and in-service training programs for school personnel on alcohol and drug abuse prevention and on the effects and legal consequences of the possession and use of tobacco products. At least one training program shall be made available in electronic format. Each superintendent shall determine the content, duration, and frequency of training on issues concerning alcohol and drug abuse for the districts in his or her supervisory union;
* * *
Sec. 9. 16 V.S.A. § 2177(b) is amended to read:
(b) The books and accounts of the corporation shall be audited annually as of June 30 under the supervision of the auditor of accounts who shall publish the audit report in detail.
Sec. 10. 16 V.S.A. § 2281(a) is amended to read:
(a) The books and accounts of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College shall be audited annually as of June 30, under the supervision of the auditor of accounts. The report of such audit shall be published in detail by the auditor of accounts.
Sec. 11. 24 V.S.A. § 5261 is amended to read:
§ 5261. ANNUAL REPORT; AUDIT
On or before March 31 of each year, the authority shall report on its activities for the preceding calendar year to the governor and to the general assembly. Each report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering its operations during the year. The authority shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once in each year by certified public accountants and the cost thereof shall be considered an expense of the authority and a copy thereof shall be filed with the state treasurer.
Sec. 12. Sec. 7 of No. 43 of the Acts of 2005 is amended to read:
Sec. 7. UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
The sum of $1,700,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the University of Vermont to assist with construction, renovation, and major facility maintenance to the university campus that advances the mission of the university to prepare the students to lead productive lives and to interpret and share knowledge for the benefit of Vermont and for society as a whole. The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.
(Total appropriation – Section 7 $1,700,000)
Sec. 13. Sec. 8 of No. 147 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:
Sec. 8. UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
The sum of $1,800,000 is appropriated to the University of Vermont to assist with construction of the plant sciences building and with major facility maintenance to the university campus. The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.
(Total appropriation – Section 8 $1,800,000)
Sec. 14. Sec. 9 of No. 147 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:
Sec. 9. VERMONT STATE COLLEGES
The sum of $1,800,000 is appropriated to the Vermont state colleges for major facility maintenance. The state colleges shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.
(Total appropriation – Section 9 $1,800,000)
Sec. 15. Sec. 4(c) of No. 192 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:
(c) On or before January 15, 2007, and on or before January 15 for five years thereafter, the task force shall report on its activities during the preceding year to the house and senate committees on education and judiciary. The task force shall cease to exist after it files the report due on January 15, 2012.
Sec. 16. Sec. 9 of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:
Sec. 9. UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
The sum of $1,600,000 is appropriated to the University of Vermont for construction, renovation, or maintenance projects. The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.
(Total appropriation – Section 9 $ 1,600,000)
Sec. 17. Sec. 10 of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:
Sec. 10. VERMONT STATE COLLEGES
The sum of $1,600,000 is appropriated to the Vermont State Colleges for major facility maintenance. The state colleges shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.
(Total appropriation – Section 10 $ 1,600,000)
* * * Special Education Audits * * *
Sec. 18. SPECIAL EDUCATION AUDITS
(a) The commissioner of education, in consultation with the Vermont superintendents association, the Vermont council of special education administrators, and the Vermont association for school business officials, shall examine the process by which the department audits special education expenditure reports submitted for reimbursement under chapter 101 of Title 16. In addition, the commissioner shall consider whether certified public accountants who are auditing school districts for other purposes could also conduct special education expenditure audits with departmental supervision. The commissioner shall make recommendations to improve the timeliness and efficiency of the audit process that, at a minimum, include provisions to ensure that:
(1) Each audit is completed and provided to the district within one year after the district submits its expenditure report.
(2) The department provides clear guidelines to districts regarding the type of records that will be audited and how to maintain those records in the most efficient way.
(3) Each audit report provides recommendations to a district to help it correct any deficiencies in its system for making special education reimbursement claims.
(b) The commissioner of education, in consultation with the Vermont superintendents association, the Vermont council of special education administrators, and the Vermont association for school business officials, shall also consider and make recommendations to amend the special education funding provisions of chapter 101 of Title 16 in order to streamline the process by which districts document costs and submit claims for reimbursement.
(c) The commissioner shall submit the recommendations required in subsections (a) and (b) of this section to the house and senate committees on education by January 15, 2009.
(d) The department shall not conduct audits of any special education expenditure report submitted for reimbursement in connection with the
2007–2008 school year; provided, however, the superintendents of districts submitting those reports shall certify to the commissioner that:
(1) Appropriate supporting documentation for eligible expenditures, such as invoices and tuition bills, have been received and are on file.
(2) Time studies as described in the Technical Guide for Special Education Staff Documentation have been conducted and are on file for all staff time for which reimbursement is sought.
* * * Union School Districts; Streamlining Process * * *
Sec. 19. 16 V.S.A. § 701 is amended to read:
§ 701. POLICY
It is declared to be the policy of the state to provide equal educational opportunities for all children in Vermont by authorizing two or more school districts, including an existing union school district, to establish a union school district for the purpose of owning, constructing, maintaining, or operating schools and to constitute the district so formed a municipal corporation with all of the rights and responsibilities which a town school district has in providing education for its youth.