Substitute House Bill No. 6950

Public Act No. 99-289

An Act Concerning School Choice and Interdistrict Programs.

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

Section 1. Section 10-266aa of the general statutes, as amended by public act 99-5, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Receiving district" means any school district that accepts students under the program established pursuant to this section; and

(2) "Sending district" means any school district [which] that sends students it would otherwise be legally responsible for educating to another school district under the program.

(b) There is established, within available appropriations, a state-wide interdistrict public school attendance program. The purpose of the program shall be to: (1) Improve academic achievement; (2) reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation or preserve racial and ethnic balance; and (3) provide a choice of educational programs for students enrolled in the public schools. The Department of Education shall provide oversight for the program, including the setting of reasonable limits for the transportation of students participating in the program.

(c) The program shall be phased in as provided in this subsection. (1) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, the Department of Education shall provide grants in the amount of fifty thousand dollars each to the regional educational service centers for the Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport regions to assist school districts in planning for the operation of the program. (2) For the school year commencing in 1998, and for each school year thereafter, the program shall be in operation in the Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport regions. The Hartford program shall operate as a continuation of the program described in section 10-266j. Students who reside in Hartford, New Haven or Bridgeport may attend school in another school district in the region and students who reside in such other school districts may attend school in Hartford, New Haven or Bridgeport. The Department of Education [shall] may provide, within available appropriations, [a grant] grants for the fiscal [year] years ending June 30, 1999, and June 30, 2000, to the remaining regional educational service centers to assist school districts in planning for the expansion of the program to every priority school district, pursuant to section 10-266p, in the state. (3) For the school year commencing in 2000, and for each school year thereafter, the program shall be in operation in New Britain, New London, Waterbury and Windham. (4) For the school year commencing in [1999] 2001, and for each school year thereafter, the program shall be in operation in every priority school district in the state. [and students] Students from other school districts in the area of a priority school district, as determined by the regional educational service center pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, may attend school in [any] the priority school district and students from the priority school district may attend school in any school district in such area in accordance with the provisions of this section, including the purposes specified in subsection (b) of this section.

(d) Once the program is in operation in the region served by a regional educational service center pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the Department of Education shall provide, annually, a grant in the amount of one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars to such a regional educational service center to assist school districts in its area in administering the program and to provide staff to assist students participating in the program to make the transition to a new school and to act as a liaison between the parents of such students and the new school district. Each regional educational service center shall determine which school districts in its area are located close enough to a priority school district to make participation in the program feasible in terms of student transportation pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, provided any student participating in the program prior to July 1, 1999, shall be allowed to continue to attend the same school such student attended prior to said date in the receiving district until the student completes the highest grade in such school. Each regional educational service center shall convene, annually, a meeting of representatives of [the] such school districts [in its area] in order for such school districts to report, by March thirty-first, the number of spaces available for the following school year for out-of-district students under the program. Annually, each regional educational service center shall provide a count of such spaces to the Department of Education by April fifteenth. If there are more students who seek to attend school in a receiving district than there are spaces available, the regional educational service center shall assist the school district in determining attendance by the use of a lottery or lotteries designed to preserve or increase racial, ethnic and economic diversity, except that the regional educational service center shall give preference to siblings and to students who would otherwise attend a school that has lost its accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The admission policies shall be consistent with section 10-15c. No receiving district shall recruit students under the program for athletic or extracurricular purposes. Each receiving district shall allow [an] out-of-district [student] students it accepts to [complete the highest grade in the school he is attending under the program established pursuant to this section, unless the local or regional board of education for such district is changing the school attendance areas on a district-wide basis] attend school in the district until they graduate from high school.

(e) Each sending district shall transfer the records of participating students to the receiving district.

(f) The Department of Education shall provide grants to regional educational service centers or local or regional boards of education for the reasonable cost of transportation for students participating in the program. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, and each fiscal year thereafter, the department shall provide such grants within available appropriations, provided the state-wide average of such grants [do] does not exceed an amount equal to [one thousand two hundred] two thousand dollars for each student transported. The regional education service centers shall provide reasonable transportation services to high school students who wish to participate in supervised extracurricular activities.

[(f)] (g) The Department of Education shall provide, within available appropriations, an annual grant to the local or regional board of education for each receiving district in an amount not to exceed two thousand dollars for each out-of-district student who attends school in the receiving district under the program. Each town which receives funds pursuant to this subsection shall make such funds available to its local or regional board of education in supplement to any other local appropriation, other state or federal grant or other revenue to which the local or regional board of education is entitled.

[(g)] (h) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, each sending district and each receiving district shall divide the number of children participating in the program who reside in such district or attend school in such district by two for purposes of the counts for subdivision (22) of section 10-262f, as amended by this act, and subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 10-261.

[(h)] (i) In the case of an out-of-district student who requires special education and related services, the sending district shall pay the receiving district an amount equal to the difference between the reasonable cost of providing such special education and related services to such student and the amount received by the receiving district pursuant to subdivision [(f)] (g) of this section. The sending district shall be eligible for reimbursement pursuant to section 10-76g.

[(i)] (j) Nothing in this section shall prohibit school districts from charging tuition to other school districts that do not have a high school pursuant to section 10-33.

(k) On or before October fifteenth of each year, the Commissioner of Education shall determine if the enrolment in the program for the fiscal year is below the number of students for which funds were appropriated. If the commissioner determines that the enrolment is below such number, the additional funds shall not lapse but shall be used by the commissioner in accordance with this subsection. (1) Any amount up to three hundred fifty thousand dollars of such nonlapsing funds shall be used for supplemental grants to receiving districts on a pro rata basis for each out-of-district student in the program who attends the same school in the receiving district as at least nine other such out-of-district students, not to exceed one thousand dollars per student. (2) Any remaining nonlapsing funds shall be used for interdistrict cooperative grants pursuant to section 10-74d.

Sec. 2. The Department of Education in conjunction with the regional educational service centers, shall survey the parents of middle and elementary school students participating in the program established pursuant to section 10-266aa of the general statutes, as amended by this act, on the need for after school transportation in order to allow such students to participate in extracurricular activities. The commissioner shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education on the results of such survey by January 1, 2000.

Sec. 3. Subsection (g) of section 10-285a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(g) The percentage determined pursuant to this section for a school building project grant [for a new building, the expansion of an existing building, the renovation of a building to increase the area of such building used as a public school or renovation of a building for use as a public school, may] shall be increased by [up to ten percentage points based on the number of spaces made available under the project] the percentage of the total projected enrolment of the school attributable to the number of spaces made available for out-of-district students participating in the program established pursuant to section 10-266aa, as amended by this act, provided the maximum increase shall not exceed ten percentage points.

Sec. 4. Section 10-66aa of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

As used in sections 10-66aa to 10-66ff, inclusive, as amended by this act:

(1) "Charter school" means a public, nonsectarian school which is (A) established under a charter granted pursuant to section 10-66bb, as amended by this act, (B) organized as a nonprofit entity under state law, (C) a public agency for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200, and (D) operated independently of any local or regional board of education in accordance with the terms of its charter and the provisions of sections 10-66aa to 10-66ff, inclusive, as amended by this act, provided no member or employee of a governing council of a charter school shall have a personal or financial interest in the assets, real or personal, of the school;

(2) "Local charter school" means a public school or part of a public school that is converted into a charter school and is approved by the local or regional board of education of the school district in which it is located and by the State Board of Education pursuant to subsection (e) of section 10-66bb, as amended by this act; and

(3) "State charter school" means a new public school approved by the State Board of Education pursuant to subsection (f) of section 10-66bb, as amended by this act.

Sec. 5. Section 10-66bb of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) On and after July 1, 1997, the State Board of Education may grant, within available appropriations, charters for local and state charter schools in accordance with this section.

(b) Any person, association, corporation, organization or other entity, public or independent institution of higher education, local or regional board of education or two or more boards of education cooperatively, or regional educational service center may apply to the Commissioner of Education, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes, to establish a charter school, provided no nonpublic elementary or secondary school may be established as a charter school and no parent or group of parents providing home instruction may establish a charter school for such instruction.

(c) The State Board of Education shall review, annually, all applications and grant charters, provided for the period from July 1, 1997, to June 30, 1999, [(1)] no more than twenty-four charters for charter schools are granted and, [(2)] on and after July 1, 1999, no state charter school enrolls (1) (A) more than two hundred fifty students or (B) in the case of a kindergarten to grade eight, inclusive, school, more than three hundred students, or (2) twenty-five per cent of the enrolment of the school district in which the state charter school is to be located, whichever is less. The State Board of Education shall give preference to applicants for charter schools that will serve students who reside in a priority school district pursuant to section 10-266p or in a district in which seventy-five per cent or more of the enrolled students are members of racial or ethnic minorities and to applicants for state charter schools that will be located at a work-site or that are institutions of higher education. In determining whether to grant a charter, the State Board of Education shall consider the effect of the proposed charter school on the reduction of racial, ethnic and economic isolation in the region in which it is to be located, the regional distribution of charter schools in the state and the potential of over concentration of charter schools within a school district or in contiguous school districts.

(d) Applications pursuant to this section shall include a description of: (1) The mission, purpose and any specialized focus of the proposed charter school; (2) the interest in the community for the establishment of the charter school; (3) the school governance and procedures for the establishment of a governing council [by the applicant, teachers, administrators and] that (A) includes teachers and parents and guardians of students enrolled in the school, and (B) is responsible for the oversight of charter school operations, provided no member or employee of the governing council may have a personal or financial interest in the assets, real or personal, of the school; (4) the financial plan for operation of the school, provided no application fees or other fees for attendance, except as provided in section 10-66ee, as amended by this act, may be charged; (5) the educational program, instructional methodology and services to be offered to students; (6) the number and qualifications of teachers and administrators to be employed in the school; (7) the organization of the school in terms of the ages or grades to be taught and the total estimated enrolment of the school; (8) the student admission criteria and procedures to (A) ensure effective public information, (B) ensure open access on a space available basis, (C) promote a diverse student body, and (D) ensure that the school complies with the provisions of section 10-15c and that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability, athletic performance or proficiency in the English language, provided the school may limit enrolment to a particular grade level or specialized educational focus and, if there is not space available for all students seeking enrolment, the school may give preference to siblings but shall otherwise determine enrolment by a lottery; (9) a means to assess student performance that includes participation in state-wide mastery examinations pursuant to chapter 163c; (10) procedures for teacher evaluation and professional development for teachers and administrators; (11) the provision of school facilities, pupil transportation and student health and welfare services; (12) procedures to encourage involvement by parents and guardians of enrolled students in student learning, school activities and school decision-making; (13) document efforts to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of staff; and (14) a five-year plan to sustain the maintenance and operation of the school. Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of section 10-66dd, an application may include, or a charter school may file, requests to waive provisions of the general statutes and regulations not required by sections 10-66aa to 10-66ff, inclusive, as amended by this act, and which are within the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education.

(e) An application for the establishment of a local charter school shall be submitted to the local or regional board of education of the school district in which the local charter school is to be located for approval pursuant to this subsection. The local or regional board of education shall: (1) Review the application; (2) hold a public hearing in the school district on such application; (3) survey teachers and parents in the school district to determine if there is sufficient interest in the establishment and operation of the local charter school; and (4) vote on a complete application [within] not later than sixty days after the date of receipt of such application. Such board of education may approve the application by a majority vote of the members of the board present and voting at a regular or special meeting of the board called for such purpose. If the application is approved, the board shall forward the application to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education shall vote on the application [within] not later than seventy-five days after the date of receipt of such application. Subject to the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, the State Board of Education may approve the application and grant the charter for the local charter school or reject such application by a majority vote of the members of the state board present and voting at a regular or special meeting of the state board called for such purpose. The State Board of Education may condition the opening of such school on the school's meeting certain conditions determined by the Commissioner of Education to be necessary and may authorize the commissioner to release the charter when the commissioner determines such conditions are met. The state board may grant the charter for the local charter school for [the] a period of time [requested in the application or five years, whichever is less] of up to five years and may allow the applicant to delay its opening for a period of up to one school year in order for the applicant to fully prepare to provide appropriate instructional services.

(f) An application for the establishment of a state charter school shall be (1) submitted to the State Board of Education for approval in accordance with the provisions of this subsection, and (2) filed with the local or regional board of education in the school district in which the charter school is to be located. The state board shall: (A) Review such application; (B) hold a public hearing on such application in the school district in which such state charter school is to be located; (C) solicit and review comments on the application from the local or regional board of education for the school district in which such charter school is to be located and from the local or regional boards of education for school districts that are contiguous to the district in which such school is to be located; and (D) vote on a complete application [within] not later than seventy-five days after the date of receipt of such application. The State Board of Education may approve an application and grant the charter for the state charter school by a majority vote of the members of the state board present and voting at a regular or special meeting of the state board called for such purpose. The State Board of Education may condition the opening of such school on the school's meeting certain conditions determined by the Commissioner of Education to be necessary and may authorize the commissioner to release the charter when the commissioner determines such conditions are met. Charters shall be granted for [the] a period of time [requested in the application or five years, whichever is less] of up to five years and may allow the applicant to delay its opening for a period of up to one school year in order for the applicant to fully prepare to provide appropriate instructional services.

(g) Charters may be renewed, upon application, in accordance with the provisions of this section for the granting of such charters. Upon application for such renewal, the State Board of Education may commission an independent appraisal of the performance of the charter school that includes, but is not limited to, an evaluation of the school's compliance with the provisions of this section. The State Board of Education shall consider the results of any such appraisal in determining whether to renew such charter. The State Board of Education may deny an application for the renewal of a charter if (1) student progress has not been sufficiently demonstrated, as determined by the commissioner, (2) the governing council has not been sufficiently responsible for the operation of the school or has misused or spent public funds in a manner that is detrimental to the educational interests of the students attending the charter school, or (3) the school has not been in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. If the State Board of Education does not renew a charter, it shall notify the governing council of the charter school of the reasons for such nonrenewal.

(h) The Commissioner of Education may at any time [, upon complaint or otherwise for good cause shown, including but not limited to failure to comply with provisions of the charter,] place a charter school on probation [in accordance with the terms of a remedial plan agreed to by the commissioner and the charter school governing council or revoke the charter, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54] if (1) the school has failed to (A) adequately demonstrate student progress, as determined by the commissioner, (B) comply with the terms of its charter or with applicable laws and regulations, (C) achieve measurable progress in reducing racial, ethnic and economic isolation, or (D) maintain its nonsectarian status, or (2) the governing council has demonstrated an inability to provide effective leadership to oversee the operation of the charter school or has not ensured that public funds are expended prudently or in a manner required by law. If a charter school is placed on probation, the commissioner shall provide written notice to the charter school of the reasons for such placement, not later than five days after the placement, and shall require the charter school to file with the department a corrective action plan acceptable to the commissioner not later than thirty-five days from the date of such placement. The charter school shall implement a corrective action plan accepted by the commissioner not later than thirty days after the date of such acceptance. The commissioner may impose any additional terms of probation on the school that the commissioner deems necessary to protect the educational or financial interests of the state. The charter school shall comply with any such additional terms not later than thirty days after the date of their imposition. The commissioner shall determine the length of time of the probationary period, which may be up to one year, provided the commissioner may extend such period, for up to one additional year, if the commissioner deems it necessary. In the event that the charter school does not file or implement the corrective action plan within the required time period or does not comply with any additional terms within the required time period, the Commissioner of Education may withhold grant funds from the school until the plan is fully implemented or the school complies with the terms of probation, provided the commissioner may extend the time period for such implementation and compliance for good cause shown. Whenever a charter school is placed on probation, the commissioner shall notify the parents or guardians of students attending the school of the probationary status of the school and the reasons for such status. During the term of probation, the commissioner may require the school to file interim reports concerning any matter the commissioner deems relevant to the probationary status of the school, including financial reports or statements. No charter school on probation may increase its student enrolment or engage in the recruitment of new students without the consent of the commissioner.

(i) The State Board of Education may revoke a charter if a charter school has failed to: (1) Comply with the terms of probation, including the failure to file or implement a corrective action plan; (2) demonstrate satisfactory student progress, as determined by the commissioner; (3) comply with the terms of its charter or applicable laws and regulations; or (4) manage its public funds in a prudent or legal manner. Unless an emergency exists, prior to revoking a charter, the State Board of Education shall provide the governing council of the charter school with a written notice of the reasons for the revocation, including the identification of specific incidents of noncompliance with the law, regulation or charter or other matters warranting revocation of the charter. It shall also provide the governing council with the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with all requirements for the retention of its charter by providing the State Board of Education or a subcommittee of the board, as determined by the State Board of Education, with a written or oral presentation. Such presentation shall include an opportunity for the governing council to present documentary and testimonial evidence to refute the facts cited by the State Board of Education for the proposed revocation or in justification of their activities. Such opportunity shall not constitute a contested case within the meaning of chapter 54. The State Board of Education shall determine, not later than thirty days after the date of an oral presentation or receipt of a written presentation, whether and when the charter shall be revoked and notify the governing council of the decision and the reasons therefor. A decision to revoke a charter shall not constitute a final decision for purposes of chapter 54. In the event an emergency exists in which the commissioner finds that there is imminent harm to the students attending a charter school, the State Board of Education may immediately revoke the charter of the school, provided the notice concerning the reasons for the revocation is sent to the governing council not later than ten days after the date of revocation and the governing council is provided an opportunity to make a presentation to the board not later than twenty days from the date of such notice.

Sec. 6. Section 10-66ee of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) For the purposes of education equalization aid under section 10-262h a student enrolled (1) in a local charter school shall be considered a student enrolled in the school district in which [he] such student resides, and (2) in a state charter school shall not be considered a student enrolled in the school district in which [he] such student resides.

(b) The local board of education of the school district in which a student enrolled in a local charter school resides shall pay, annually, in accordance with its charter, to the fiscal authority for the charter school for each such student the amount specified in its charter, including the reasonable special education costs of students requiring special education. The board of education shall be eligible for reimbursement for such special education costs pursuant to section 10-76g.

(c) (1) The state shall, annually, pay in accordance with this subsection, to the fiscal authority for a state charter school, [six thousand five hundred dollars] an amount equal to one hundred ten and three-tenths per cent of the foundation level pursuant to subdivision (9) of section 10-262f for each student enrolled in such school. Such payments shall be made as follows: Twenty-five per cent of the amount [in July and September] not later than July fifteenth and September fifteenth based on estimated student enrolment on May first, and twenty-five per cent of the amount [in January] not later than January fifteenth and the remaining amount [in April] not later than April fifteenth, each based on student enrolment on October first. (2) In the case of a student identified as requiring special education, the school district in which the student resides shall: (A) Hold the planning and placement team meeting for such student and shall invite representatives from the charter school to participate in such meeting; and (B) pay the state charter school an amount equal to the difference between the reasonable cost of educating such student and the sum of [six thousand five hundred dollars] the amount received by the state charter school for such student pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and amounts received from other state, federal, local or private sources calculated on a per pupil basis. Such school district shall be eligible for reimbursement pursuant to section 10-76g. The charter school a student requiring special education attends shall be responsible for ensuring that such student receives the services mandated by the student's individualized education program whether such services are provided by the charter school or by the school district in which the student resides.

(d) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, if at the end of a fiscal year amounts received by a state charter school, pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, are unexpended, the charter school (1) may use, for the expenses of the charter school for the following fiscal year, up to ten per cent of such amounts, and (2) may (A) create a reserve fund to finance a specific capital or equipment purchase or another specified project as may be approved by the commissioner, and (B) deposit into such fund up to five per cent of such amounts.

(e) The local or regional board of education of the school district in which the charter school is located shall provide transportation services for students of the charter school who reside in such school district pursuant to section 10-273a unless the charter school makes other arrangements for such transportation. Any local or regional board of education may provide transportation services to a student attending a charter school outside of the district in which the student resides and, if it elects to provide such transportation, shall be reimbursed pursuant to section 10-266m for the reasonable costs of such transportation. Any local or regional board of education providing transportation services under this subsection may suspend such services in accordance with the provisions of section 10-233c. The parent or guardian of any student denied the transportation services required to be provided pursuant to this subsection may appeal such denial in the manner provided in sections 10-186 and 10-187.

(f) Charter schools shall be eligible to the same extent as boards of education for any grant for special education, competitive state grants and grants pursuant to sections 10-17g and 10-266w.

(g) If the commissioner finds that any charter school uses a grant under this section for a purpose that is inconsistent with the provisions of this part, the commissioner may require repayment of such grant to the state.

(h) Charter schools shall receive, in accordance with federal law and regulations, any federal funds available for the education of any pupils attending public schools.

(i) The governing council of a charter school may (1) contract or enter into other agreements for purposes of administrative or other support services, transportation, plant services or leasing facilities or equipment, and (2) receive and expend private funds or public funds, including funds from local or regional boards of education and funds received by local charter schools for out-of-district students, for school purposes.

Sec. 7. Subsections (a) and (b) of section 10-74d of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The [state] Department of Education shall, within available appropriations and after payments made pursuant to section 10-266j, maintain a competitive grant program for the purpose of assisting local and regional boards of education and regional educational service centers with the establishment and operation of interdistrict cooperative programs, including programs pursuant to section 10-266bb, and lighthouse schools, as defined in section 10-266cc, but excluding interdistrict magnet school programs for which a local or regional board of education or a regional educational service center receives funds pursuant to section 10-264h or 10-264l, as amended by this act.

(b) To be eligible for a grant under this section, each application shall be submitted pursuant to a cooperative arrangement on behalf of two or more local or regional boards of education, [or be submitted] by a regional educational service center solely or pursuant to a cooperative arrangement with one or more local or regional boards of education, or, in the case of a lighthouse school, by a local or regional board of education or regional educational service center. Applications shall be submitted annually to the Commissioner of Education at such times and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes. In determining whether an application shall be approved and funds awarded pursuant to this section, the commissioner shall consider, but such consideration shall not be limited to, the following factors: (1) The specific objectives and description of the proposed program; (2) the cost; (3) the number of school districts and students that will benefit, provided on and after July 1, 1998, the commissioner shall not award a grant for a program, other than a lighthouse school, in which more than eighty per cent of the students are from one school district; (4) the relative wealth of the participating school districts; and (5) whether the proposed program is likely to (A) increase student achievement, and (B) reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation.

Sec. 8. Subdivision (22) of section 10-262f of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(22) "Resident students" means the number of pupils of the town enrolled in public schools at the expense of the town on October first or the full school day immediately preceding such date, provided the number shall be decreased by the Department of Education for failure to comply with the provisions of section 10-16 and shall be increased by one-one-hundred-eightieth for each full-time equivalent school day in the school year immediately preceding such date of at least five hours of actual school work in excess of one hundred eighty days and nine hundred hours of actual school work and be increased by the full-time equivalent number of such pupils attending the summer sessions immediately preceding such date at the expense of the town; "enrolled" shall include pupils who are scheduled for vacation on the above date and who are expected to return to school as scheduled. [Pupils enrolled in an approved program described in section 10-266j shall be counted in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (3) of subsection (c) of said section.] Pupils participating in the program established pursuant to section 10-266aa, as amended by this act, shall be counted in accordance with the provisions of subsection (g) of section 10-266aa, as amended by this act.

Sec. 9. Section 10-264l of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The Department of Education shall, within available appropriations, establish a [competitive] grant program to assist local and regional boards of education, regional educational service centers and cooperative arrangements pursuant to section 10-158a with the operation of interdistrict magnet school programs. For the purposes of this section "an interdistrict magnet school program" means a program which (1) supports racial, ethnic and economic diversity, (2) offers a special and high quality curriculum, and (3) requires students who are enrolled to attend at least half-time. An interdistrict magnet school program does not include a regional vocational agriculture school, a regional vocational-technical school or a regional special education center. On and after July 1, 2000, the governing authority for each interdistrict magnet school program shall restrict the number of students that may enroll in the program from a participating district to eighty per cent of the total enrolment of the program.

(b) Applications for interdistrict magnet school program operating grants awarded pursuant to this section shall be submitted annually to the Commissioner of Education at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes. In determining whether an application shall be approved and funds awarded pursuant to this section, the commissioner shall consider, but such consideration shall not be limited to: (1) Whether the program offered by the school is likely to increase student achievement; (2) whether the program is likely to reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation; and (3) the percentage of the student enrolment in the program from each participating district. On and after July 1, 2000, the commissioner shall not award a grant to a program if more than eighty per cent of its total enrolment is from one school district, except that the commissioner may award a grant for good cause, for any one year, on behalf of an otherwise eligible magnet school program, if more than eighty per cent of the total enrolment is from one district.

(c) The maximum amount each interdistrict magnet school program shall be eligible to receive per enrolled student shall be determined as follows: (1) For each participating district whose magnet school program enrolment is equal to or less than thirty per cent of the magnet school program total enrolment, ninety per cent of the foundation as defined in subdivision (7) of section 10-262f; (2) for each participating district whose magnet school program enrolment is greater than thirty per cent but less than or equal to sixty per cent of the magnet school program total enrolment, a percentage between sixty and ninety per cent of said foundation that is inversely proportional to the percentage of magnet school program students from such district; and (3) for each participating district whose magnet school program enrolment is greater than sixty per cent but less than or equal to ninety per cent of the magnet school program total enrolment, a percentage between zero and sixty per cent of said foundation that is inversely proportional to the percentage of magnet school program students from such district. The amounts so determined shall be proportionately adjusted, if necessary, within the limit of the available appropriation, and in no case shall any grant pursuant to this section exceed the reasonable operating budget of the magnet school program, less revenues from other sources. Any magnet school program operating less than full-time but at least half-time shall be eligible to receive a grant equal to [fifty] sixty-five per cent of the grant amount determined pursuant to this subsection.

(d) Grants made pursuant to this section shall be paid as follows: Fifty per cent by September first and the balance by January first of each fiscal year. The January first payment shall be adjusted to reflect actual interdistrict magnet school program enrolment as of the preceding October first, if the actual level of enrolment is lower than the projected enrolment stated in the approved grant application.

(e) The Department of Education may retain up to one per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for program evaluation and administration.

(f) Each local or regional school district in which an interdistrict magnet school is located shall provide the same kind of transportation to its children enrolled in such interdistrict magnet school as it provides to its children enrolled in other public schools in such local or regional school district. The parent or guardian of a child denied the transportation services required to be provided pursuant to this subsection may appeal such denial in the manner provided in section 10-186 and 10-187.

(g) On or before October fifteenth of each year, the Commissioner of Education shall determine if interdistrict magnet school enrolment is below the number of students for which funds were appropriated. If the commissioner determines that the enrolment is below such number, the additional funds shall not lapse but shall be used by the commissioner for grants for interdistrict cooperative programs pursuant to section 10-74d.

Sec. 10. Section 10-266cc of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, the Department of Education shall award a grant in an amount not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars to the Hartford school district to assist in the development of a curriculum and the training of staff for a lighthouse school. For the fiscal [year] years ending June 30, 1999, June 30, 2000, and June 30, 2001, the Department of Education shall award, within available appropriations, competitive grants to the Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport school districts to assist in the development of curricula and the training of staff for lighthouse schools. For purposes of this section and section 10-285a, a "lighthouse school" is an existing public school or a public school planned prior to July 1, 1997, in a priority school district that (1) has a specialized curriculum, and (2) is designed to promote intradistrict and interdistrict public school choice.

Sec. 11. This act shall take effect July 1, 1999.

Approved June 29, 1999

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