Substitute Senate Bill No. 453

Special Act No. 01-7

AN ACT CONCERNING THE HARTFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 1 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

(a) It is hereby found and declared that the Hartford school district is in a state of crisis and that the continued existence of this crisis is detrimental to the children of the city and in conflict with the educational interests of the state and the resolution of the crisis is a matter of paramount public interest and that to achieve this resolution it is necessary, appropriate and an essential public purpose to provide in this act for the dissolution of the Hartford Board of Education for a period of at least thirty-seven months and for the creation of a State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools to be responsible for the governance, management and fiscal operations of the Hartford school district, all in order to increase student achievement, enhance the quality, adequacy and equality of educational opportunities, and allocate and manage resources efficiently and effectively.

(b) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools requested and received an extension of time for its management of the Hartford school district through the Monday preceding the first Tuesday in December, 2002, in accordance with section 2 of special act 97-4, as amended by this act. Such extension was granted in order to allow the State Board of Trustees additional time to: (1) Improve student achievement; (2) address the Hartford Improvement Plan developed by the Commissioner of Education and the recommendations of the fiscal and operations audit of the school district; (3) continue the accreditation process for the elementary and middle schools; (4) implement a long-term school building program based on the findings of the long-range facilities study; and (5) implement revised policies for the school district. Accordingly, during such extension period, the State Board of Trustees shall continue to manage the Hartford school district in accordance with the provisions of special act 97-4, as amended by this act.

(c) For purposes of this section and sections 4 and 6 to 9, inclusive, of special act 97-4, as amended by this act, "reconstituted Hartford Board of Education" means the Hartford Board of Education managing the school district pursuant to subsection (b) of section 2 of special act 97-4, as amended by this act, from December 3, 2002 to December 5, 2005.

Sec. 2. Section 2 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

[The Hartford Board of Education in existence on the effective date of this act shall dissolve on June 1, 1997.]

(a) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools, established pursuant to section 3 of [this act] special act 97-4, shall be solely responsible for the management of the Hartford school district, as provided in [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act, during the period from June 1, 1997, through June 30, 2000, except that the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools, on or before January 1, 2000, may request the State Board of Education to extend the period [until June 30, 2002] in accordance with subsection (b) of this section. Such request shall be based on such factors as the need for additional time to improve student achievement and sufficiently address the Hartford Improvement Plan described in subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of section 4 of [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act, and the findings and recommendations of the fiscal and operations audit conducted pursuant to subsection (b) of section 6 of [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act. The State Board of Education shall act on such a request by February 1, 2000. If the State Board of Education grants such an extension, the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools shall continue to manage the Hartford school district [through June 30, 2002] in accordance with subsection (b) of this section. [In January, 2000 or, if an extension is granted pursuant to this subsection, in January, 2002, the Governor shall issue a writ of election directed to the municipal clerk of the city of Hartford ordering an election to be held in Hartford on a date in March specified in the writ for members of a new local board of education. Such members shall take office on July 1, 2000, or July 1, 2002, as appropriate. The terms of office of such members shall be in accordance with the charter of the city of Hartford except that the terms of six members shall expire on the Monday immediately preceding the first Tuesday in December in 2001 or 2003, as appropriate, and the terms of three members shall expire on the Monday immediately preceding the first Tuesday in December in 2003 or 2005, as appropriate. During the period from the election of such members until June 30, 2000, or June 30, 2002, as appropriate, the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools shall hold joint meetings with the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education to provide for the transition in the management of the Hartford school district from the State Board of Trustees of the Hartford Public Schools to the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education.]

(b) The Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools shall continue to manage the Hartford school district through December 2, 2002. From December 3, 2002, to December 5, 2005, the Hartford school district shall be managed by a board of education consisting of four elected members, and three members who are electors of the city of Hartford and are appointed by the mayor of Hartford with the approval of the Hartford City Council. The elected members shall be elected at the election held in November, 2002, and they shall take office on December 3, 2002. Except as provided in this subsection, on and after December 6, 2005, the Hartford school district shall be managed by a board of education that is determined in accordance with the charter of the city of Hartford. The number of members of the board of education shall be in accordance with the charter and the length of the terms of individual members elected in 2005, may be different in order to meet any provision of the charter requiring staggered terms. Notwithstanding the provisions of the charter of the city of Hartford concerning the election of members of the board of education, commencing with the election held in November, 2002, and for all subsequent elections, candidates for the board of education shall be elected with party designation.

(c) The state monitors appointed pursuant to section 8 of [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act, shall continue their duties [under the newly elected board of education for one year] until December 5, 2005. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, during the time that the State Board of Education monitors the Hartford school district, the State Board of Education may reject, for good cause, the appointment of any Hartford superintendent of schools within thirty days of such appointment.

Sec. 3. Subsections (b) to (d), inclusive, of section 4 of special act 97-4 are amended to read as follows:

(b) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools and the Superintendent of Schools shall jointly appoint a seven-member advisory council composed of parents, classroom teachers, school principals and representatives from institutions of higher education. The council shall advise the State Board of Trustees and the superintendent on such matters as curriculum, student achievement, parental and community involvement, and school safety and discipline. [The advisory council shall terminate on the date the State Board of Trustees transfers responsibility for the Hartford school district to the newly elected Hartford Board of Education.] The advisory council shall terminate on December 31, 2003.

(c) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools shall ensure that all elementary and middle schools in Hartford join the New England Association of Schools and Colleges through the association's accreditation process. The reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall continue the accreditation process and shall develop, implement and periodically report on a comprehensive written strategy for achieving the accreditation of all elementary and middle schools in Hartford. The strategy shall be developed in consultation with the Commissioner of Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Said board of education shall ensure that the schools that have been accredited maintain such accreditation.

(d) The city of Hartford shall remain financially responsible for any liabilities or obligations, including contingent liabilities and obligations, incurred by the city council, [or] the Hartford Board of Education prior to June 1, 1997, or the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools.

Sec. 4. Section 6 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

(a) (1) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or any public or special act, the Hartford City Council shall allocate funds to the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools and provide in-kind services to said State Board of Trustees in accordance with this [subsection. (1)] subdivision. (A) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, and each subsequent fiscal year that the Hartford school district is under the management of the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools, the Hartford City Council shall: [(A)] (i) Allocate to the State Board of Trustees all state and federal aid, except amounts received pursuant to chapter 173 of the general statutes, tuition revenues and revenues from private sources received by the city of Hartford for educational purposes in said fiscal years, and [(B)] (ii) provide to said State Board of Trustees at least the same type and amount of in-kind services as were provided to the Hartford Board of Education for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997. [(2)] (B) For the fiscal years ending June 30, 1998, and June 30, 1999, the Hartford City Council shall allocate to the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools the amount of local funds it allocated to the Hartford Board of Education for educational purposes in the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, plus any additional amount needed to satisfy the requirements of section 10-262j of the general statutes. Such allocation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, shall be based on estimates approved by the Commissioner of Education, provided an adjustment based on final audited revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, shall be made by the Hartford City Council no later than March 1, 1998. [(3)] (C) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools shall determine the amount of local funds needed to meet the needs of the school district for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, and any subsequent fiscal year the Hartford school district is under its management and shall provide such information to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education for purposes of the report required under section 9 of [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act. The Hartford City Manager shall be responsible for the prompt disposition of all purchasing requests made by the Superintendent of Schools. For purposes of this [subsection] subdivision and subdivision (2) of this subsection, "local funds" means the funds allocated by the Hartford City Council in excess of the funds described in subparagraph (A) (i) of this subdivision [(1) of this subsection] or subparagraph (A) (i) of subdivision (2) of this subsection, as the case may be.

(2) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or any public or special act, the Hartford City Council shall allocate funds to the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education in accordance with this subdivision. (A) For the fiscal years ending June 30, 2003, and June 30, 2004, shall: (i) Allocate to the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education all state and federal aid, except amounts received pursuant to chapter 173 of the general statutes, tuition revenues and revenues from private sources received by the city of Hartford for educational purposes in said fiscal years, and (ii) provide to said board of education at least the same type and amount of in-kind services as were provided to the State Board of Trustees for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002. (B) For the fiscal years ending June 30, 2003, and June 30, 2004, the Hartford City Council shall allocate to the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education at least the amount of local funds it allocated to the State Board of Trustees for educational purposes in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, plus any additional amount needed to satisfy the requirements of section 10-262j of the general statutes. (C) The reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall determine the amount of local funds needed to meet the needs of the school district for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2004, and shall provide such information to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education for purposes of the report required under section 9 of special act 97-4, as amended by this act.

(b) (1) The State Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, shall contract for a fiscal and operations audit of the Hartford school district by a certified public accounting firm. The audit shall be paid for by the city and the contract shall require a report by January 1, 1998. The State Board of Trustees shall develop a plan to address the findings of the audit and to implement the recommendations in the report. (2) The reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall continue to implement the recommendations from the fiscal and operations audit of the Hartford school district pursuant to this subsection. The audit steering committee created under the State Board of Trustees or such other entity with similar responsibilities created under the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall continue until December 6, 2005, unless reauthorized by the Hartford Board of Education, and shall meet monthly to accomplish the following actions: (A) Prioritize and recommend projects necessary to address the recommendations in both the fiscal and operations audit and more recent annual financial audits; (B) help to ensure that financial and operational controls for completed recommendations are established; (C) assist the Hartford district to formalize an internal audit function for the Hartford Public Schools; and (D) assess and report on progress and concerns. Each member of the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall receive a copy of the monthly status reports distributed to the audit steering committee. The reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall hold at least semi-annual informational meetings devoted to providing the board and the general public with a full progress report on the status of audit improvement efforts. The Hartford City Council shall maintain its support and provision of in-kind services to the audit steering committee through December 5, 2005.

Sec. 5. Section 7 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

(a) The State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, shall develop a long-term school building program pursuant to section 10-220 of the general statutes for the Hartford school district. The State Board of Trustees or the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education, as appropriate, and the Hartford City Council shall expeditiously implement the program. All school construction projects shall be managed by a school building committee, three members of which shall be appointed by the State Board of Trustees or the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education, as appropriate, three members of which shall be appointed by the Hartford City Council and one member of which shall be chosen by a vote of the other members. The members of the appointing authorities may be appointed to the building committee. The building committee may delegate management responsibilities to an external entity approved by the Commissioner of Education. The Hartford City Council shall continue to pay the municipal costs of school construction projects. To the extent that a Hartford bond referendum is required for the authorization of school construction projects, the Hartford City Council shall present to the voters projects that have been determined by the State Board of Trustees or the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education, as appropriate, to be in accordance with the long-term building program, provided, in the case of projects approved by the State Board of Trustee or the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education, as appropriate, the City Treasurer has determined that such projects are within the fiscal capabilities of the city.

(b) The audit steering committee, in consultation with the State Board of Trustees and the Hartford City Council, shall recommend a mechanism to effectively and efficiently complete facilities projects authorized prior to the effective date of this act and to implement the long-term school building program. The audit steering committee or such other entity with similar responsibilities created under the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education shall provide semi-annual reports, until December 5, 2005, on school building projects to the Hartford City Council and the State Board of Trustees or the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education, as appropriate.

Sec. 6. Section 8 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

(a) The Commissioner of Education shall appoint, within available appropriations, two state monitors for the Hartford school district. The state monitors shall report directly to the Commissioner of Education. The monitors shall consult with and assist the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools, [and] the Superintendent of Schools and the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education in assessing the progress and the needs of the school district and securing outside assistance from corporations and universities for meeting such needs.

(b) The state monitors, the Superintendent of Schools and the Commissioner of Education shall meet regularly to review the progress and needs of the school district.

[(c) The state monitors shall prepare a monthly written report to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education on the progress and needs of the Hartford school district. The report shall include information on any additional assistance required by the school district. The state monitors shall submit copies of the report to the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools and the Superintendent of Schools.]

Sec. 7. Section 9 of special act 97-4 is amended to read as follows:

(a) On or before October 1, 1997, the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education shall report to the Governor, and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education on the operation of the Hartford school district and progress made under the management of the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools. Such a report shall be made on a quarterly basis until the management of the Hartford school district is returned to the control of the Hartford Board of Education pursuant to section 2 of [this act] special act 97-4, as amended by this act. The report submitted pursuant to this section in January, 1999, shall contain a recommendation on the amount of local funds necessary for the operation of the Hartford school district for the subsequent years that the school district is under the management of the State Board of Trustees for the Hartford Public Schools.

(b) On or before December 31, 2002, the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the Governor, the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, the Hartford City Council and the reconstituted Hartford Board of Education on the operation of the Hartford school district and its progress. Such report shall be made on a semi-annual basis until June 30, 2005.

Approved July 6, 2001