Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report

December 16, 2011




By: Judith Lohman, Assistant Director

You asked for a table comparing state laws and funding for agricultural science and technology centers and charter, interdistrict magnet, and regional vocational-technical (V-T) schools. This report updates and revises OLR Report 2011-R-0078.

Table 1 compares the statutory provisions governing approval, programs, students, special education, and transportation requirements for each type of school, as well as showing how each type of school is funded.

As the table shows, the four types of schools operate regionally, enrolling students from various towns. The schools are either 100% state-funded, as with state charter and V-T schools, or funded partly by the state and partly by districts that send students to the schools. Students attend these schools voluntarily and the state either runs them or approves and oversees them.

More detailed information on funding for interdistrict magnet and charter schools and agricultural science and technology centers is available in OLR Reports 2010-R-0399 and 2010-R-0400.




Charter Schools

(CGS 10-66aa to ll, as amended by PAs 11-48 and 11-179)

Interdistrict Magnet Schools

(CGS 10-264h to m, as amended by PAs 11-6, 11-48, 11-51, 11-57, and 11-61)

Vocational-Technical Schools

(CGS 10-95 to 10-99g, as amended by PA 11-1, October Sp. Sess.)

Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Centers

(CGS 10-65 and 66, as amended by PAs 11-48,11-51, and 11-61)



Any person, association, corporation, organization, or other entity.

Public or independent institution of higher education.

Local or regional board of education.

Two or more boards of education acting cooperatively.

Regional education service center (RESC).

Local and regional board of education.


Cooperative arrangement between two or more school boards.

For a school that helps meet the goals of the 2008 settlement of the Sheff v. O'Neill school desegregation case: (1) boards of trustees of state's higher education constituent units or independent colleges or universities and (2) any other nonprofit corporation approved by the education commissioner.

State Board of Education (SBE).

Local or regional boards of education that have entered into agreements with other boards to establish centers in conjunction with their regular school system.

Boards operating centers must have a consulting committee to advise the operating board of education. Each participating district must appoint two representatives to the center advisory board who have a competent knowledge of agriculture or aquaculture, as appropriate.



Nonpublic school.

Parent or group of parents providing home instruction.

Regional vocational agriculture school.

Regional vocational-technical school.

Regional special education center.

SBE is the only eligible operator.

Local and regional boards of education are the only eligible operators.

Program Requirements

None. Program is part of proposed school charter.

Support racial, ethnic, and economic diversity.

Offer a special and high quality curriculum.

Require students enrolled to attend at least half-time.

Offer full-time, part-time, and evening programs in vocational, technical and technological education and training.

SBE may authorize schools to offer trade programs for a maximum of five years, after which the board must evaluate programs (see below).

SBE must base any decision to offer new trade programs on (1) employment demand for graduates, (2) cost of establishing the program, (3) availability of qualified instructors, (4) existence of similar programs at other educational institutions, and (5) student interest.

The director of each V-T school must meet with the local business community to assess local workforce needs and implement curriculum modifications to address them.

Eligible agricultural science and technology education courses must be approved by SBE.

Any local or regional board of education that does not offer such courses must designate a school or schools offering such courses that its students may attend.

Approval Granted By

SBE for state charter school.

Local board of education and SBE for local charter school.

Education commissioner



Initial Approval Considerations

Effect of school on reducing racial, economic, or ethnic isolation in its region.

Regional distribution of charter schools in the state.

Potential for over-concentration of charter schools within a school district or contiguous districts.

For annual operating grants:

Whether program is likely to increase student achievement.

Whether program is likely to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation.

Percentage of enrollment from each participating district.

The school's proposed operating budget and sources of funding.

For Sheff magnets, whether the school is meeting the desegregation goals of the 2008 Sheff settlement.

None specified

Program, educational need, location, and area to be served.

Additional Approval Factors

(Applicable to schools meeting initial considerations)

Schools serving children who live in priority districts or in districts where 75% or more of the students are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

State charter schools located at work sites or with applicants that are higher education institutions.

Most important approval criterion is the quality of the proposed program.

No non-Sheff magnets may be approved after July 1, 2009 until the education commissioner develops a comprehensive statewide magnet school plan.



Approval Process

SBE review for state charter schools; local board of education for local charters.

Public hearing in district where school will be located.

For state charter school, SBE must solicit and review comments from board of education of district where school will be located and from contiguous districts.

For local charter school, the local board must survey teachers and parents in the district to determine if there is enough interest.

SBE must vote on application within 90 days of receiving it; a local board must vote within 60 days of receiving an application and forward an approved application to the SBE within 75 days of receipt.

Approval by majority vote.

Approval may be subject to conditions.

Charters may be delayed for up to one school year for the applicant to prepare.

Application approved by the education commissioner.

Interdistrict magnet schools receiving capital construction grants must comply with regular school construction requirements, including General Assembly approval as part of the annual school construction priority list.

Not applicable. See above for approval process for new trade programs.

None specified.

Enrollment Requirements

Each school may enroll no more than the lesser of:

250 students or, if a K-8 school, no more than 300 or

25% of the enrollment of the school district where it is located.

If the SBE finds a state charter school has a demonstrated record of achievement, it must waive the enrollment limits.

Schools that begin operating before July 1, 2005 may have no more than 80% of enrolled students from one participating district.

Schools that begin operating on or after July 1, 2005 must (1) have no more than 75% of enrolled students from one participating district and (2) maintain a minority enrollment of at least 25% but no more than 75%.

● Private school students may enroll in public part-time programs so long as they (1) make up no more than 5% of the magnet school's full-time equivalent enrollment and (2) are not counted for purposes of the state magnet school transportation grant.

Students must have completed 8th grade.

Students must have completed 8th grade.

Districts not operating centers must provide student enrollment opportunities in one or more centers run by other districts.

If a district provided opportunities for its students to enroll in more than one center in the school year starting July 1, 2007, it must continue to do so.

Districts not operating a center must (1) allow their students to enroll in another district's center in numbers that are at least equal to the number of its students enrolled in the center during the three previous school years and (2) provide enrollment opportunities for 9th graders in each center it designates that are at least equal to (a) the number of 9th graders specified in its written agreement with each center or (b) the average number of 9th graders that enrolled in each designated center over the preceding three years.

Student Admission Criteria

Schools must:

Provide open access on a space-available basis.

If applicants exceed space available, school must distribute places by lottery.

Promote a diverse student body.

Not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, athletic performance, or English proficiency.

Schools may:

Limit enrollment to particular grade level or specialized educational focus.

Give preference to siblings if applicants exceed space available.


May not recruit students for purpose of interscholastic athletic competition.

After accommodating students from participating districts according to an approved enrollment agreement, may enroll any interested student on a space-available basis.

In enrolling individual students directly, must give preference to a student from a district not participating in the Open Choice interdistrict attendance program.

SBE may adopt regulations to control admission to any V-T school.

Each district operating a center must establish and implement a five-year plan to increase racial and ethnic diversity at the center, so its enrollment reasonably reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the area where it is located.

Student Transportation

District where charter school is located must provide transportation to charter school for students living in district unless charter school makes other arrangements.

District has option of providing transportation to its students attending charter schools outside district. If it does, costs are eligible for reimbursement in regular school transportation grant.

Provided by the participating districts.

Must be the same kind as provided to district children enrolled in other public schools in the district.

Districts must provide transportation for any resident student under age 21 who has not graduated from high school to any V-T school located in or outside the district.

Same as V-T school.

Provision of Special Education and Related Services

School district where student lives must hold the planning and placement team (PPT) meeting.

District must invite representatives of charter school to participate in the meeting.

On a quarterly basis, school district must pay charter school the difference between the reasonable cost of education for the student and the per-student amount the school receives from state, federal, local, or private grants.

Charter school is responsible for ensuring the student receives services mandated by his individualized education program.

Same as charter school requirements, except:

Payments from districts do not have to be quarterly.

Magnet school is only responsible for providing special education services if student attends magnet program full-time.

Provided and paid by SBE. Services are the same as those a local or regional school district must provide.

If a student's PPT determines that he or she requires services that preclude him or her from participating in the vocational education program offered at the V-T school, the student must be referred to the local or regional board of education in the town where the student lives for development of an individualized education program at the expense of the local or regional board of education (CGS 10-76q).

Any costs for special education students that exceed state grants (see below) must be reimbursed by the student's home district.

Districts may apply for state reimbursement for qualifying special education payments to a center that exceed tuition paid for non-special education students in the same manner as other excess special education costs.

School Construction Funding

From FY 06 to FY 09, each was eligible (one time) for up to $500,000 in funds for school improvements or refinancing previous debt through state bond funds.

Money remains from a state bond authorization to continue these grants but the legislature has not extended the education commissioner's authority to administer them.

For projects filed before July 1, 2011, 95% of eligible construction costs through the state school construction grant program.

For projects filed on or after July 1, 2011, 80% of eligible costs.

For FY 12, up to $6.25 million is available for capital start-up costs for new Sheff magnet schools.

State pays 100% of the cost of V-T school capital projects through general obligation bonds.

V-T school projects must be included on the annual school construction priority list in the same manner as local school projects (CGS 10-283b).

For projects filed before July 1, 2011, district operating a center receives a state grant equal to 95% of the eligible cost of construction and equipment for the center through the state's school construction grant program.

For projects filed on or after July 1, 2011, reimbursement is 80% of eligible costs.

State Operating Expense Funding

For state charter schools, basic state grant of $9,400 per student per year plus a maximum supplemental grant of $70 per student per year if state appropriation exceeds actual enrollment.

For local charter schools, the local board of education must pay the amount specified in the school's charter, including reasonable costs for special education.

Within appropriations, the state may provide a grant of up to $75,000 for start-up costs for any new charter school that assists the state to meet the goals of the 2008 settlement of the Sheff v. O'Neill school desegregation case.

At the end of any year, a charter school may (1) use up to 10% of any unspent grant funds for expenses in the following year and (2) deposit up to 5% in a reserve fund to finance a specific capital or equipment purchase. The school must return any other unspent funds to the state.

State operating grants depend on whether or not (1) a school is run by a local school district (“host magnet”) or a RESC or other entity (RESC magnet) and (2) whether it helps the state achieve the goals of the 2008 Sheff settlement (“Sheff magnet”) or not (“non-Sheff magnet”). Grants for FY 12 are:

Non-Sheff host magnet: $6,730 for each student from outside the host district; $3,000 for each student from the host district.

Hartford host magnet: $13,054 for each student from outside Hartford.

Non-Sheff RESC magnet with 55% or less enrollment from a single town: $7,620 per student.

Non-Sheff RESC magnet with more than 55% or of enrollment from a single town: $6,730 for each student from outside the dominant district; $3,000 for each student from the dominant town. (Edison Magnet School in Meriden receives $3,833 for each Meriden student.)

RESC-run Sheff magnet: $10,443 per student for a school enrolling less than 60% of its students from Hartford.

Part-time magnet school program: 65% of the above amounts if operated at least half-time.

V-T school operations are funded by the state through the regular state budget process.

Preparatory and supplemental programs, including apprenticeship programs, are funded from the nonlapsing Vocational Education Extension Fund, which includes all proceeds from operating the programs plus rental fees for V-T facilities (CGS 10-95e).

Annual operating grant of $1,355 for each student enrolled in the center as of October 1 of the preceding year.

For centers with more than 150 out-of-district students, an additional $500 per student.

A center that no longer qualifies for the $500 supplemental grant receives a gradually decreasing phase-out grant for four successive years after it ceases to qualify.

For a center that is not eligible for either a full $500-per-student supplemental grant or a phase-out grant, a supplemental grant of $60 per enrolled student.

If any funds remain after the above distributions, all centers receive an additional $100 per enrolled student.

Any remaining funds are distributed to districts operating centers with more than 150 out-of-district students. Allocations are based on the ratio of the number of out-of district students over 150 in each center to the total number of out-of-district students over 150 in all centers in the state.

For FYs 12 and 13, the state budget allocates an extra $500,000 annually for distribution as described above.

Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grants

None for students attending state charter schools, either to the school or to the student's home district.

Students enrolled in a local charter school would be counted in the ECS formula in the district in which they reside. (There are currently no local charter schools operating.)

Magnet school students are counted as attending school in their home districts. Those districts receive ECS grants for their students attending magnet schools.

V-T students are not counted for purposes of ECS grants. Local districts receive no ECS funding for students attending V-T schools

For ECS grants, students are counted as attending school in their home districts. Local districts receive ECS grants for their students attending vo-ag centers.

Tuition from Sending District


Many magnet schools receive per-student tuition from sending districts. Amounts vary based on the state grants the schools receive. Tuition cannot exceed certain limits.

Hartford host magnets are barred from charging tuition through FY 13.


Centers may charge sending districts annual tuition for each student they send to a center, up to a maximum tuition of 82.5% of the ECS foundation amount, or $7,992 per student per year based on the ECS foundation of $9,687 per student.

Tuition for students enrolled in shared-time programs is prorated. (In a shared-time program, students take regular high school academic courses at their home high school and agriculture training at the agricultural center.)

School Transportation Funding

Provided to local and regional school districts through the normal school transportation grant program for students transported within district (mandated) and out-of-district (voluntary).

Provided through the normal school transportation grant program for students transported within the district.

Provided through a separate state grant for students transported out-of-district (expenditures over the state grant limits may be submitted for reimbursement in the following year in the normal school transportation grant):

Non-Sheff magnets: up to $1,300 per student.

Sheff magnets: up to $2,000 per student.

Sending districts are eligible for state reimbursement of reasonable transportation costs at its regular rate (0 to 60% depending on wealth) plus 20 percentage points for any costs exceeding $800 per pupil, per year.

If the cost of providing out-of-town transportation for any student exceeds $200 per year, the town may opt to maintain the student in the town where he or she attends V-T school.

The education commissioner may reimburse local and regional boards of education and RESCs up to $2,000 per student for transporting Hartford students to V-T schools outside Hartford to help meet Sheff goals.

Sending districts are eligible for state reimbursement of reasonable transportation costs at its regular rate (0 to 60% depending on wealth) plus 20 percentage points for any costs exceeding $800 per pupil, per year.

The education commissioner may reimburse districts and RESCs up to $2,000 per student for the cost of transporting Hartford students to centers outside Hartford to help meet Sheff goals.


Charters must be renewed every five years.

After receiving an application for a charter renewal, SBE may commission an independent appraisal of the school's performance.

SBE must consider the results of the appraisal in determining whether to renew the charter.

SBE or the education commissioner may deny renewal, place a charter school on probation, or revoke its charter if it finds the school has failed to: (1) adequately demonstrate student progress; (2) abide by its charter or state regulations; (3) make measurable progress in reducing racial, ethnic, and economic isolation; or (4) maintain its nonsectarian status.

The commissioner can also act if he or she finds the school's governing council (1) is unable to provide effective leadership to oversee the school's operations or (2) has not assured prudent and legal expenditure of public funds.

Education commissioner may conduct a comprehensive review of a magnet school's operating budget to verify its tuition rate.

All magnet schools must submit an annual financial audit to the education commissioner.

Each year, the commissioner must randomly select one interdistrict magnet school for a comprehensive financial audit by an auditor the commissioner selects.

SBE must establish specific achievement goals for V-T students and measure school performance based on quantifiable measures including 10th grade mastery test performance, trade-related assessment tests, and drop-out and graduation rates.

SBE must evaluate each school trade program every five years on the basis of (1) projected employment demand, including employment of graduates in the preceding five years; (2) availability of qualified instructors; (3) existence of similar programs at other educational institutions; and (4) student interest. SBE must also consider geographic differences that may make a trade program feasible at one school but not another and consult the craft committees for the program.

Every five years, SBE must adopt a long-range plan of priorities and goals for the V-T system.

V-T system superintendent must report at an annual hearing held by the Education, Higher Education, and Labor committees on (1) how the system ensures the V-T curriculum is incorporating workforce skills to be needed over the coming 30 years as identified by the labor commissioner; (2) the employment status of system graduates; and (3) the adequacy of system resources.

The district operating each center must conduct and submit to SBE, an annual study of the educational and vocational activities of its graduates five year after graduation.