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House Bill No. 6420

Public Act No. 03-219

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE RELATIVE TO THE FUNDING OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WHO ARE BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED.

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

Section 1. Section 10-295 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2003):

(a) All residents of this state, regardless of age, who, because of blindness or impaired vision, require [special] specialized vision-related educational programs, goods and services, on the signed recommendation of the director of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, shall be entitled to receive such instruction, programs, goods and services and for such length of time as is deemed expedient by said director. [The director shall annually submit to the board the list of names of persons so recommended. ] Upon the petition of any parent or guardian of a blind [educable] child or a child with impaired vision, a local board of education may provide such instruction within the town or it may provide for such instruction by agreement with other towns as provided in subsection (d) of section 10-76d. [The expense of such instruction shall be paid by the state to an amount not exceeding six thousand four hundred dollars for each of such persons in any one state fiscal year. When the parents or guardians of any such blind person or person with impaired vision are not able to provide clothing for such person, an additional sum not to exceed one hundred dollars per year may be allowed for such expenses. Where a local or regional board of education reimburses parents or legal guardians of a blind or visually impaired child for transportation to and from a specialized residential facility serving the blind, such board shall be reimbursed by the state for such validated actual cost up to a maximum of three hundred dollars per pupil per school year. Determination of reimbursable transportation costs and payment therefor shall be the responsibility of the State Board of Education and Services for the Blind. ] All educational privileges prescribed in part V of chapter 164, not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, shall apply to the pupils covered by this subsection. [The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may provide any of the educational services described in this section to a child whose vision may be greater than as defined in section 10-294a upon written referral by the local or regional board of education responsible for providing special education and related services pursuant to section 10-76d. A request from a local or regional board of education for reimbursement of such expenses to the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall not be eligible for such reimbursement unless such request is received by the first of June for such expenses incurred during the preceding first of July through the thirty-first of December and by the first of December for expenses incurred during the preceding first of January through the thirtieth of June. ]

[(b) Said board may expend funds up to eleven thousand dollars per fiscal year per child for the purpose of sending children who are both blind or visually impaired and deaf, or blind or visually impaired with other severe physical handicaps, to specialized facilities within or outside the state furnishing proper facilities for education of such children; provided blind children or children with visual impairment who are mentally retarded or emotionally maladjusted who can reasonably profit by special training, facilities and services may be included in the provisions of this section. Such funds may be spent outside the state for room, board, tuition and other items necessarily relevant to the education of such children. Said board may determine if such children should be sent to such out-of-state places and may]

(b) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall expend funds for the services made available pursuant to subsection (a) of this section from the Educational Aid for Blind and Visually Handicapped Children account in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. The expense of such services shall be paid by the state in an amount not to exceed six thousand four hundred dollars in any one fiscal year for each child who is blind or visually impaired. The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may promulgate such regulations as it deems necessary to carry out the purpose and intent of this subsection. [To be eligible for aid under this subsection, the child and either of such child's parents or guardian shall be bona fide residents of this state. ]

(1) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall provide, upon written request from any interested school district, the services of teachers of the visually impaired, based on the levels established in the individualized education or service plan. The agency shall also make available its resources, including, but not limited to, the Braille and large print library to all teachers of public and nonpublic school children. The agency may also provide vision-related professional development and training to all school districts. The agency shall utilize general-funded education consultant positions authorized as of July 1, 2001, to supplement new staffing that will be made available through the educational aid for the blind and visually handicapped children account, which shall be governed by formal written policies established by the agency.

(2) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall use funds appropriated to said account, first to provide specialized books, materials, equipment, supplies, adaptive technology services and devices, specialist examinations and aids, preschool programs, vision-related independent living services, excluding primary educational placement, for eligible children without regard to a per child statutory maximum.

(3) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may, within available appropriations, employ certified teachers of the visually impaired in sufficient numbers to meet the requests for services received from school districts. In responding to such requests, the agency shall utilize a formula for determining the number of teachers needed to serve the school districts, crediting six points per each Braille learning child and one point for each other child, with one full-time certified teacher of the visually impaired for every twenty-five points. The agency shall exercise due diligence to employ the needed number of certified teachers of the visually impaired, but shall not be liable for lack of resources. Not later than October first of each year, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall determine the number of teachers needed based on the formula provided in this subdivision. Based on such determination the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall estimate the funding needed to pay such teachers' salaries, benefits and related expenses.

(4) In any fiscal year, when funds appropriated to cover the combined costs associated with providing the services set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection are projected to be insufficient, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall be authorized to collect revenue from all school districts that have requested such services on a per student pro rata basis, in the sums necessary to cover the projected portion of these services for which there are insufficient appropriations.

(5) Remaining funds in said account, not expended to fund the services set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, shall be used to cover on a pro rata basis, the actual cost with benefits of a teacher of the visually impaired, directly hired or contracted by the school districts which opt to not seek such services from the Board of Education and Services for the Blind. Reimbursement shall occur at the completion of the school year, using the caseload formula denoted in subdivision (3) of this section, with twenty-five points allowing for the maximum reimbursable amount as established by the agency annually.

(6) Remaining funds in such account, not expended to fund the services set forth in subdivisions (2), (3) and (5) of this subsection, shall be distributed to the school districts on a pro rata formula basis with a two-to-one credit ratio for Braille learning students to non-Braille-learning students in the school district based upon the annual child count data provided pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(c) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may provide for the instruction of the adult blind in their homes, expending annually for this purpose such sums as the General Assembly may appropriate.

(d) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may expend up to ten thousand dollars per fiscal year per person twenty-one years of age or over who is both blind or visually impaired and deaf for the purpose of sending such person to a specialized public or private facility within the state furnishing programs from which such person can profit. Said board may determine the criteria by which a person is sent to a specialized public or private facility and may adopt regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this subsection.

(e) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may, within available appropriations, purchase adaptive equipment for persons receiving services pursuant to this chapter. The cost of such purchases shall not exceed, and shall be included in, the maximum amount authorized for instructional expenses under subsection (a) of this section.

Approved July 9, 2003