Substitute House Bill No. 5737

Public Act No. 00-187

An Act Concerning Education Aid.

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

Section 1. (NEW) (a) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the Commissioner of Education shall provide grants, within available appropriations, to local and regional boards of education that have one or more schools in need of improvement on the most recent list prepared pursuant to section 2 of public act 99-288. Eligible boards of education shall use grant funds for costs related to the implementation of improvement plans for such schools, partnership programs between such schools and public libraries in the school district and actions necessary for such schools to become accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. An eligible board of education shall submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, to the Department of Education, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes.

(b) The plan for the expenditure of grant funds shall be approved by the department, after consultation with the State Librarian for purposes of the partnership programs, and shall include: (1) Methods and school-based programs identified pursuant to section 2 of this act, that address the specific subject areas, by grade level, in which students attending the school were most deficient on the state-wide mastery examinations pursuant to section 10-14n of the general statutes, as amended, and (2) partnership programs with public libraries in the school district that are designed to improve family literacy and parent involvement.

(c) Each board of education receiving a grant pursuant to this section shall set aside an amount equal to at least ten per cent of the grant for partnership programs with public libraries in the school district.

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

(e) No funds received pursuant to this section shall be used to supplant federal, state or local funding to the local or regional board of education for such schools.

(f) Expenditure reports shall be filed with the Department of Education as requested by the commissioner. School districts shall refund (1) any unexpended amounts at the close of the program for which the grant was awarded, and (2) any amounts not expended in accordance with the approved grant application.

(g) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the Hartford school district shall not receive grants pursuant to this section but shall use a portion of the supplemental aid provided in section 35 of special act 00-13 to implement improvement plans and partnership programs in accordance with this section.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (a) The Department of Education shall identify methods and programs that have a demonstrated record of success in improving student performance in such areas as reading, mathematics and writing. The department shall make information on such methods and programs available to local and regional boards of education to assist them in utilizing such methods and establishing such programs to address deficiencies in schools on the list prepared pursuant to section 2 of public act 99-288. For purposes of this section, "methods" includes professional development for teachers and administrators, instructional techniques and the governance and management structure and systems.

(b) The Commissioner of Education shall report, annually, 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 implementation of improvement plans and student achievement at schools on the list prepared pursuant to section 2 of public act 99-288.

Sec. 3. Section 4 of public act 99-288 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, and each fiscal year thereafter, the Commissioner of Education shall award grants, within available appropriations, to local and regional boards of education for priority school districts pursuant to section 10-266p, as amended, for summer school programs required pursuant to section 3 of [this act] public act 99-288, and week-end school programs. Eligibility for grants pursuant to this section shall be determined for a five-year period based on a school district's designation as a priority school district for the initial year of application. In order to receive a grant, an eligible board of education shall submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds to the Department of Education, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes.

(b) In order to receive a grant, an eligible board of education shall submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds to the Department of Education, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes. The plan shall include: (1) Criteria for student participation in the program, including provision for priority to students who are determined to be substantially deficient in reading, (2) criteria for teacher selection that emphasize the skills needed for teaching the summer program and criteria for establishment of the curriculum for the summer program, and (3) a system for reporting, by school and grade, on the number of students who attend the program, for assessing the performance of such students in the program and for tracking their performance during the school year. In deciding where to establish a summer school program, eligible boards of education shall give preference to elementary and middle schools with the highest number of students who are substantially deficient in reading.

[(b)] (c) Each priority school district shall receive a grant based on the ratio of the number of resident students, as defined in subdivision (22) of section 10-262f, as amended, in the district to the total number of resident students in all priority school districts.

[(c)] (d) No funds received pursuant to this section shall be used to supplant federal, state or local funding to the local or regional board of education for summer school or week-end school programs.

[(d)] (e) Expenditure reports shall be filed with the department as requested by the commissioner. Local or regional boards of education shall refund (1) any unexpended amounts at the close of the program for which the grant is awarded, and (2) any amounts not expended in accordance with an approved grant application.

Sec. 4. Section 10-16p of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of public act 99-230, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) As used in sections 10-16o to 10-16r, inclusive, as amended by this act, section 9 of this act, section 17b-749a and section 17b-749c, as amended by this act:

(1) "School readiness program" means a nonsectarian program that (A) meets the standards set by the department pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and the requirements of section 10-16q, and (B) provides a developmentally appropriate learning experience of not less than four hundred fifty hours and one hundred eighty days for eligible children, provided, for the fiscal years ending June 30, 1998, and June 30, 1999, the commissioner may approve programs that provide learning experiences which are for less than said hours and days;

(2) "Eligible children" means children three and four years of age and children five years of age who are not eligible to enroll in school pursuant to section 10-15c, or who are eligible to enroll in school and will attend a school readiness program pursuant to section 9 of [this act] public act 99-230;

(3) "Priority school" means a school in which forty per cent or more of the lunches served are served to students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches pursuant to federal law and regulations, excluding such a school located in a priority school district pursuant to section 10-266p, as amended, or in a former priority school district receiving a grant pursuant to subsection (c) of this section and, on and after July 1, 2001, excluding such a school in a transitional school district receiving a grant pursuant to section 9 of this act;

(4) "Severe need school" means a school in a priority school district pursuant to section 10-266p, as amended, or in a former priority school district in which forty per cent or more of the lunches served are served to students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches;

(5) "Accredited" means accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a Head Start on-site program review instrument or a successor instrument pursuant to federal regulations, or otherwise meeting such criteria as may be established by the commissioner, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services;

(6) "Approved" means meeting the criteria established by the commissioner, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services;

(7) "Year-round" means fifty weeks per year;

(8) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Education; and

(9) "Department" means the Department of Education.

(b) The Department of Education shall be the lead agency for school readiness. [School] For purposes of this section and section 9 of this act, school readiness program providers eligible for funding from the Department of Education shall include local and regional boards of education, regional educational service centers, family resource centers and providers of child day care centers, as defined in section 19a-77, Head Start programs, preschool programs and other programs that meet such standards established by the Commissioner of Education. The department shall establish standards for school readiness programs. The standards may include, but need not be limited to, guidelines for staff-child interactions, curriculum content, lesson plans, parent involvement, staff qualifications and training, and administration. The department shall develop age-appropriate developmental skills and goals for children attending such programs. The commissioner, in consultation with the Commissioners of Higher Education and Social Services and other appropriate entities, shall develop a continuing education training program for the staff of school readiness programs. For purposes of this section, on and after July 1, 2003, "staff qualifications" means there is in each classroom an individual who has at least the following: (1) A credential issued by an organization approved by the Commissioner of Education and nine credits or more in early childhood education or child development from an institution of higher education accredited by the Board of Governors of Higher Education or regionally accredited; (2) an associate's degree in early childhood education or child development from such an institution; or (3) a four-year degree in early childhood education or child development from such an institution.

(c) The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall establish a grant program to provide spaces in accredited or approved school readiness programs for eligible children who reside in priority school districts pursuant to section 10-266p, as amended, or in former priority school districts as provided in this subsection. Under the program, the grant shall be provided, in accordance with this section, to the town in which such priority school district or former priority school district is located. Eligibility shall be determined for a five-year period based on an applicant's designation as a priority school district for the initial year of application, except that if a school district that receives a grant pursuant to this subsection is no longer designated as a priority school district at the end of such five-year period, such former priority school district shall continue to be eligible to receive a grant pursuant to this subsection. Grant awards shall be made annually contingent upon available funding and a satisfactory annual evaluation. The chief elected official of such town and the superintendent of schools for such priority school district or former priority school district shall submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds and responses to the local request for proposal process to the Departments of Education and Social Services. The departments shall jointly review such plans and shall each approve the portion of such plan within its jurisdiction for funding. The plan shall: (1) Be developed in consultation with the local school readiness council established pursuant to section 10-16r, as amended; (2) be based on a needs and resource assessment; (3) provide for the issuance of requests for proposals for providers of accredited or approved school readiness programs, provided, after the initial requests for proposals, facilities that have been approved to operate a child care program financed through the Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority and [who] have received a commitment for debt service from the Department of Social Services pursuant to section 17b-749i, as amended, are exempt from the requirement for issuance of annual requests for proposals; and (4) identify the need for funding pursuant to section 17b-749a in order to extend the hours and days of operation of school readiness programs in order to provide child day care services for children attending such programs.

(d) The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall establish a competitive grant program to provide spaces in accredited or approved school readiness programs for eligible children who reside in an area served by a priority school. A town in which such a school is located or a regional school readiness council, pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-16r, as amended, for a region in which such a school is located may apply for such a grant in an amount not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars per priority school. Eligibility shall be determined for a five-year period based on an applicant's designation as having a priority school for the initial year of application. Grant awards shall be made annually contingent upon available funding and a satisfactory annual evaluation. The chief elected official of such town and the superintendent of schools of the school district or the regional school readiness council shall submit a plan, as described in subsection (c) of this section, for the expenditure of such grant funds to the Department of Education. In awarding grants pursuant to this subsection, the commissioner shall give preference to applications submitted by regional school readiness councils and may, within available appropriations, provide a grant in excess of one hundred thousand dollars to towns with two or more priority schools in such district. A town or regional school readiness council awarded a grant pursuant to this subsection shall use the funds to purchase spaces for such children from providers of accredited or approved school readiness programs.

(e) (1) Ninety-three per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section shall be used for the grant program pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. Priority school districts and former priority school districts shall receive grants based on their proportional share of the sum of the products obtained by multiplying the average number of enrolled kindergarten students in each priority school district and in each former priority school district for the [year] three years prior to the year the grant is to be paid, by the ratio of the average percentage of free and reduced price meals for all severe need schools in such district to the minimum percentage requirement for severe need school eligibility, provided no such school district shall receive a grant that is less than the grant it received for the prior fiscal year.

(2) Six and five-tenths per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section shall be used for the competitive grant program pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.

(3) The Department of Education may retain up to five-tenths of one per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for coordination, program evaluation and administration.

(4) If a town that is eligible for a grant pursuant to subsection (c) of this section does not submit, by January first, a plan which is subsequently approved for the expenditure of the entire amount of funds for which such town is eligible, the department may use up to ten per cent of any amounts such town has not earmarked for expenditure to provide supplemental grants to other towns that are eligible for grants pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(f) Any school readiness program that receives funds pursuant to this section or section 9 of this act shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion or disability. For purposes of this section, a nonsectarian program means any public or private school readiness program that is not violative of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut or the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America.

(g) Subject to the provisions of this subsection, no funds received by a town pursuant to subsection (c) or (d) of this section or section 9 of this act shall be used to supplant federal, state or local funding received by such town for early childhood education, provided (1) a town may use up to five per cent but no more than fifty thousand dollars of the amount received pursuant to subsection (c) or (d) of this section or section 9 of this act for coordination, program evaluation and administration, and (2) if a town provides twenty-five thousand dollars in local funding for early childhood education coordination, program evaluation and administration, such town may use up to ten per cent but no more than seventy-five thousand dollars of such amount for coordination, program evaluation and administration. Each town that receives a grant pursuant to said subsection (c) or (d) or section 9 of this act shall designate a person to be responsible for such coordination, program evaluation and administration and to act as a liaison between the town and the Departments of Education and Social Services. Each school readiness program that receives funds pursuant to this section or section 9 of this act shall provide information to the department or the school readiness council, as requested, that is necessary for purposes of any school readiness program evaluation.

(h) For the fiscal years ending June 30, 1998, June 30, 1999, [and] June 30, 2000, and June 30, 2001, grants pursuant to this section may be used, with the approval of the commissioner, to prepare a facility or staff for operating a school readiness program and shall be adjusted based on the number of days of operation of a school readiness program if a shorter term of operation is approved by the commissioner.

(i) A town may use grant funds to purchase spaces for eligible children who reside in such town at an accredited or approved school readiness program located in another town. A regional school readiness council may use grant funds to purchase spaces for eligible children who reside in the region covered by the council at an accredited or approved school readiness program located outside such region.

(j) Children enrolled in school readiness programs funded pursuant to this section shall not be counted as resident students for purposes of subdivision (22) of section 10-262f, as amended.

Sec. 5. Subsection (c) of section 17b-749 of the general statutes, as amended by section 7 of public act 99-166 and section 5 of public act 99-252, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(c) The commissioner shall establish eligibility and program standards including, but not limited to: (1) A priority intake and eligibility system with preference given to serving teen parents, low-income working families, adoptive families of children who were adopted from the Department of Children and Families and who are granted a waiver of income standards under subdivision (2) of subsection (b), and working families who are at risk of welfare dependency; (2) health and safety standards for child care providers not required to be licensed; (3) a reimbursement system for child care services which account for differences in the age of the child, number of children in the family, the geographic region and type of care provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, the cost and type of services provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, successful completion of fifteen hours of annual in-service training or credentialing of child care directors and administrators, and program accreditation; (4) supplemental payment for special needs of the child and extended nontraditional hours; (5) an annual rate review process which assures that reimbursement rates are maintained at levels which permit equal access to a variety of child care settings; (6) a sliding reimbursement scale for participating families; (7) an administrative appeals process; (8) an administrative hearing process to adjudicate cases of alleged fraud and abuse and to impose sanctions and recover overpayments; and (9) a waiting list for the child care subsidy program that reflects the priority and eligibility system set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section, which is reviewed periodically, with the inclusion of this information in the annual report required to be issued annually by the Department of Social Services to the Governor and the General Assembly in accordance with subdivision (10) of section 17b-733. Such action will include, but not be limited to, family income, age of child, region of state and length of time on such waiting list.

Sec. 6. Subsection (c) of section 17b-749c of the general statutes, as amended by section 7 of public act 99-230, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(c) The grants shall be used to:

(1) Help providers who are not accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to obtain such accreditation;

(2) Provide comprehensive services, such as enhanced access to health care, nutrition, family support services, parent education, literacy and parental involvement, and community and home outreach programs;

(3) Purchase educational equipment;

(4) Provide scholarships for training to obtain a child development associate certificate;

(5) Provide training for persons who are mentor teachers, as defined in federal regulations for the Head Start program, and provide a family service coordinator or a family service worker as such positions are defined in such federal regulations;

(6) Repair fire, health and safety problems in existing facilities and conduct minor remodeling to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act;

(7) Create a supportive network with family day care homes;

(8) Provide for educational consultation and staff development;

(9) Provide for program quality assurance personnel; [and]

(10) Provide technical assistance services to enable providers to develop child care facilities pursuant to sections 17b-749g, 17b-749h and 17b-749i, as amended; and

(11) Establish a single point of entry system.

Sec. 7. The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall require school readiness councils in priority school districts pursuant to section 10-266p of the general statutes, as amended, and school districts with a severe need school as defined in section 10-16p of the general statutes, as amended by this act, and invite school readiness councils in transitional school districts pursuant to section 10-263c of the general statutes, as amended, to submit an operating and capital school readiness needs assessment that provides an estimate of the number of three and four year old children in such districts not enrolled in a school readiness program whose parents would likely enroll them if a school readiness program were available and a proposed three-year plan to address any gap in the number of available spaces and the demand for such spaces. On or before January 1, 2001, the Commissioner of Education shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the General Assembly on such needs assessments and recommend actions to address unmet needs.

Sec. 8. (NEW) (a) The Department of Education shall develop and implement a state-wide public school information system. The system shall be designed for the purpose of establishing a standardized electronic data collection and reporting protocol that will facilitate compliance with state and federal reporting requirements, improve school to school and district to district information exchanges, and maintain the confidentiality of individual student and staff data. The initial design shall focus on student information, provided the system shall be created to allow for future compatibility with financial, facility and staff data. The system shall provide for the tracking of the performance of individual students on each of the state-wide mastery examinations under section 10-14n of the general statutes, in order to allow the department to compare the progress of the same cohort of students who take each examination and to better analyze school performance for purposes of section 2 of public act 99-288.

(b) The system database of student information shall not be considered a public record for the purposes of section 1-210 of the general statutes.

(c) The department shall initiate a pilot system project not later than the 2002-2003 school year with full implementation in the school year following successful implementation of the pilot. All school districts shall participate in the system, provided the department provides for technical assistance and training of school staff in the use of the system.

Sec. 9. (NEW) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, and each fiscal year thereafter, the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall provide grants, within available appropriations, to eligible school readiness program providers pursuant to subsection (b) of section 10-16p of the general statutes, as amended by this act, to provide spaces in accredited or approved school readiness programs for eligible children who reside in transitional school districts pursuant to section 10-263c of the general statutes, as amended, except for transitional school districts eligible for grants pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-16p, as amended by this act. Under the program, the grant shall be provided to the town in which such transitional school district is located. Eligibility shall be determined for a five-year period based on a school district's designation as a transitional school district in the initial year of application, except that grants pursuant to this section shall not be provided for transitional school districts eligible for grants pursuant to subsection (c) of said section 10-16p. Grant awards shall be made annually contingent upon available funding and a satisfactory annual evaluation. The chief elected official of such town and the superintendent of schools for such transitional school district shall submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds and responses to the local request for proposal process to the Departments of Education and Social Services. The departments shall jointly review such plans and shall each approve the portion of such plan within its jurisdiction for funding. The plan shall meet the requirements specified in subsection (c) of said section 10-16p.

Sec. 10. Section 10-16o of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The state shall encourage the development of a network of school readiness programs pursuant to sections 10-16p to 10-16r, inclusive, as amended by this act, section 9 of this act, and section 17b-749a in order to:

(1) Provide open access for children to quality programs that promote the health and safety of children and prepare them for formal schooling;

(2) Provide opportunities for parents to choose among affordable and accredited or approved programs;

(3) Encourage coordination and cooperation among programs and prevent the duplication of services;

(4) Recognize the specific service needs and unique resources available to particular municipalities and provide flexibility in the implementation of programs;

(5) Prevent or minimize the potential for developmental delay in children prior to children reaching the age of five;

(6) Enhance federally funded school readiness programs;

(7) Strengthen the family through: (A) Encouragement of parental involvement in a child's development and education; and (B) enhancement of a family's capacity to meet the special needs of the children, including children with disabilities;

(8) Reduce educational costs by decreasing the need for special education services for school age children and to avoid grade repetition;

(9) Assure that children with disabilities are integrated into programs available to children who are not disabled; and

(10) Improve the availability and quality of school readiness programs.

Sec. 11. Subsections (a) and (b) of section 10-16r of the general statutes, as amended by section 3 of public act 99-230, are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) A town seeking to apply for a grant pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-16p, as amended by this act, or section 9 of this act shall convene a local school readiness council. Any other town may convene such a council. The chief elected official of the town or, in the case of a regional school district, the chief elected officials of the towns in the school district and the superintendent of schools for the school district shall jointly appoint and convene such council. Each school readiness council shall be composed of: (1) The chief elected official, or [his] the official's designee; (2) the superintendent of schools, or a management level staff person as [his] the superintendent's designee; (3) parents; (4) representatives from local programs such as Head Start, family resource centers, nonprofit and for-profit child day care centers, group day care homes, prekindergarten and nursery schools, and family day care home providers; and (5) other representatives from the community who provide services to children. The chief elected official shall designate the chairperson of the school readiness council.

(b) The local school readiness council shall: (1) Make recommendations to the chief elected official and the superintendent of schools on issues relating to school readiness, including any applications for grants pursuant to sections 10-16p, as amended by this act, section 9 of this act, 17b-749a and 17b-749c, as amended by this act; (2) foster partnerships among providers of school readiness programs; (3) assist in the identification of the need for school readiness programs and the number of children not being served by such a program; (4) submit biannual reports to the Department of Education on the number and location of school readiness spaces and estimates of future needs; (5) cooperate with the department in any program evaluation and, on and after July 1, 2000, use measures developed pursuant to section 10-16s, as amended, for purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of school readiness programs; (6) identify existing and prospective resources and services available to children and families; (7) facilitate the coordination of the delivery of services to children and families, including (A) referral procedures, and (B) before and after-school child care for children attending kindergarten programs; (8) exchange information with other councils, the community and organizations serving the needs of children and families; (9) make recommendations to school officials concerning transition from school readiness programs to kindergarten; and (10) encourage public participation.

Sec. 12. Subsection (a) of section 17b-749c of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The Commissioner of Social Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, shall establish a program, within available appropriations, to provide, on a competitive basis, supplemental quality enhancement grants to providers of child day care services or providers of school readiness programs pursuant to section 10-16p, as amended by this act and section 9 of this act. Child day care providers and school readiness programs may apply for a supplemental quality enhancement grant at such time and on such form as the Commissioner of Social Services prescribes.

Sec. 13. Subdivision (19) of section 10-262f of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(19) "Regional bonus" means, for any town which is a member of a regional school district and has students who attend such regional school district, an amount equal to [twenty-five] one hundred dollars for each such student enrolled in the regional school district on October first or the full school day immediately preceding such date for the school year prior to the fiscal year in which the grant is to be paid multiplied by the ratio of the number of grades, kindergarten to grade twelve, inclusive, in the regional school district to thirteen.

Sec. 14. Subsection (b) of section 10-262j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(b) For the purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the amount of the aid increase paid to a town shall be (1) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1990, the amount of aid to be paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1990, pursuant to section 10-262i, less the base aid for the town, (2) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1991, the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1991, pursuant to said section, less the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1990, pursuant to said section, (3) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1992, the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1992, pursuant to said section, less the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1991, pursuant to said section, (4) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1993, the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1993, less the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1992, pursuant to said section, (5) for the fiscal years ending June 30, 1994, and June 30, 1995, the amount of aid paid to the town for the fiscal year pursuant to said section, less the amount of aid paid to the town for the prior fiscal year pursuant to said section, (6) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1996, the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1996, pursuant to said section less base revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1995, (7) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, less the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1996, pursuant to said section, (8) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, less the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, pursuant to said section, [and] (9) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999, the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999, less the amount paid to the town for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, pursuant to said section, and (10) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, and each fiscal year thereafter, the amount paid to the town for said fiscal year, less the amount paid to the town for the year prior to said fiscal year, provided any amounts paid pursuant to section 7 of public act 99-217, as amended by this act, shall be included in the determination of the aid increase paid to the town.

Sec. 15. Subsection (b) of section 10-266aa of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of public act 99-289, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(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, and may provide for the incremental expansion of the program for the school year commencing in 2000 for each town required to participate in the program pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

Sec. 16. Subsection (f) of section 10-266aa of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of public act 99-5 and section 1 of public act 99-289, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(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 does not exceed an amount equal to two thousand one hundred 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.

Sec. 17. Section 10-266aa of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of public act 99-5 and section 1 of public act 99-289, is amended by adding subsection (l) as follows:

(NEW) (l) For purposes of the state-wide mastery examinations under section 10-14n, students participating in the program established pursuant to this section shall be considered residents of the school district in which they attend school.

Sec. 18. Section 10-266cc of the general statutes, as amended by section 10 of public act 99-289, 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 years ending June 30, 1999, June 30, 2000, and June 30, 2001, and each fiscal year thereafter, 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. Grants for such purpose shall not exceed one hundred thousand dollars for any individual school in any year and may be renewed for two additional years in such lesser amounts as the department determines are reasonable for purposes of implementing the lighthouse school program at a school. 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. 19. Section 7 of public act 99-217 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 10-262h of the general statutes, as amended by [this act] public act 99-217, for the fiscal [years] year ending June 30, 2000, [and June 30, 2001,] the education equalization aid grant to the city of Hartford shall be increased by six million dollars over the amount that the town would otherwise receive pursuant to said section 10-262h.

Sec. 20. The sum of three hundred thousand dollars distributed to the city of Hartford in section 82 of special act 00-13 for one time surplus revenue sharing shall be used for an operational audit of the Hartford school district.

Sec. 21. Subdivision (7) of subsection (d) of section 10-262j of the general statutes, as amended by section 6 of public act 99-217, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(7) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the regular program expenditures of a town shall be no less than the sum of (A) its minimum expenditure requirement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, (B) its aid increase pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and (C) if the resident student count for October, 1999, is less than the resident student count for October, 1998, the result obtained by multiplying the difference between the town's resident student count for October 1999, using the data of record as of December 1, 1999, and the town's resident student count for October 1998, using the data of record as of December 1, 1998, by one-half of the foundation.

Sec. 22. Subsection (a) of section 10-19o of the general statutes, as amended by section 32 of public act 99-1 of the June special session, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The Commissioner of Education shall establish a program to provide grants to youth service bureaus in accordance with this section. Only youth service bureaus which were eligible to receive grants pursuant to this section for the fiscal year ending June 30, [1999] 2000, or which applied for a grant by May 15, [1999] 2000, with prior approval of the town's contribution pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, shall be eligible for a grant pursuant to this section for any fiscal year commencing on or after July 1, [1999] 2000. Each such youth service bureau shall receive a grant of fourteen thousand dollars. The Department of Education may expend an amount not to exceed two per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for administrative expenses. If there are any remaining funds, each such youth service bureau that was awarded a grant in excess of fifteen thousand dollars in the fiscal year ending June 30, 1995, shall receive a percentage of such funds. The percentage shall be determined as follows: For each such grant in excess of fifteen thousand dollars, the difference between the amount of the grant awarded to the youth service bureau for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1995, and fifteen thousand dollars shall be divided by the difference between the total amount of the grants awarded to all youth service bureaus that were awarded grants in excess of fifteen thousand dollars for said fiscal year and the product of fifteen thousand dollars and the number of such grants for said fiscal year.

Sec. 23. Subsection (c) of section 10-66ee of the general statutes, as amended by section 6 of public act 99-289, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(c) (1) The state shall, annually, pay in accordance with this subsection, to the fiscal authority for a state charter school, [an amount equal to one hundred ten and three-tenths per cent of the foundation level pursuant to subdivision (9) of section 10-262f] seven thousand dollars for each student enrolled in such school. Such payments shall be made as follows: Twenty-five per cent of the amount not later than July fifteenth and September fifteenth based on estimated student enrolment on May first, and twenty-five per cent of the amount not later than January fifteenth and the remaining amount 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 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.

Sec. 24. Section 10a-20a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The Board of Governors of Higher Education may establish and administer a fund to be known as the Endowed Chair Investment Fund. Within the limits of funds available, the board may deposit state funds for an endowed chair approved under subsection (c) of this section to an account within said fund in an amount not less than five hundred thousand dollars.

(b) State funds deposited by the board of governors to the Endowed Chair Investment Fund shall be invested by the State Treasurer.

(c) The Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut and the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut State University System may apply for the establishment of an endowed chair to be supported by a grant of not less than five hundred thousand and not more than [seven hundred fifty thousand] one million dollars from the Endowed Chair Investment Fund and a matching nonstate contribution. Applications for endowed chairs shall be accepted on October first and April first in each year in which funds are available. To apply for the state grant, the board of trustees shall notify the board of governors that it has raised a matching nonstate contribution and that it is eligible for a grant of state funds to establish an endowed chair in a specific academic discipline. The board of trustees shall submit for the board's review and approval evidence that the chair will be established in a center of excellence, as defined in subsection (b) of section 10a-25h.

(d) Following approval of state funding for an endowed chair by the board of governors, the board of trustees of the institution at which the chair is established shall select candidates to fill the endowed chair and shall develop a budget for expenditures associated with the chair.

(e) Interest income earned under subsection (b) of this section shall be deposited to the Endowed Chair Investment Fund and, following establishment of an endowed chair under subsection (c) of this section shall be allocated, upon request, to The University of Connecticut or to the Connecticut State University system, as appropriate, to support the endowed chair. Nonstate matching contributions shall be held by a duly established foundation of The University of Connecticut or the Connecticut State University system and the interest on such contributions shall be used to support the endowed chair.

(f) The boards of trustees shall submit annual reports to the board of governors concerning endowed chair expenditures.

Sec. 25. (NEW) The Commissioner of Education shall annually, by December first, determine subject and geographic areas in which a teacher shortage exists and shall certify such shortages to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority for purposes of section 26 of this act. In determining teacher shortages, the commissioner shall consider the following: (1) The number of teacher vacancies in a particular subject or geographic area; (2) the number of new certificates in such areas issued by the Department of Education during the preceding year; and (3) the number and types of classes being taught by persons whose training is not specific to the field in which they are teaching.

Sec. 26. (NEW) The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority shall develop and administer a program of mortgage assistance to certified teachers (1) employed by priority school districts pursuant to section 10-266p of the general statutes, as amended, (2) employed by transitional school districts pursuant to section 10-263c of the general statutes, as amended, or (3) who teach in a subject matter shortage area pursuant to section 25 of this act. Such assistance shall be available to eligible teachers for the purchase of a house as their principal residence, provided, in the case of a teacher employed by a priority or a transitional school district, the house is located in such district. In making mortgage assistance available under the program, the authority shall utilize downpayment assistance or any other appropriate housing subsidies. The terms of any mortgage assistance shall allow the mortgagee to realize a reasonable portion of the equity gain upon sale of the mortgaged property.

Sec. 27. (a) There is established a commission on the teacher and school administrator shortage and minority recruitment. The commission shall explore various incentives and credentialing alternatives to attract and retain teachers and school administrators in areas of shortages, including minority teachers and minority school administrators, and to prevent future shortages in certain areas. Such incentives and alternatives may include, but not be limited to: (1) Enhancements to the mentoring program for teachers; (2) the waiving of examination fees pursuant to subsection (e) of section 10-145f of the general statutes, and certification and endorsement fees pursuant to subsection (o) of section 10-145b of the general statutes; (3) incentives for retired teachers who teach on a temporary basis in subject areas or geographic areas in which a shortage exists, such as possible changes to the salary limitations for such retired teachers; and (4) changes to the alternative route to certification program.

(b) The commission shall consist of the following members:

(1) Two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, one of whom shall represent the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Association of Colleges and Universities for Teacher Education;

(2) Two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and one of whom shall represent a regional educational service center;

(3) One appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives who shall represent the Connecticut Association of Urban Superintendents;

(4) One appointed by the majority leader of the Senate who shall represent the Connecticut Federation of Educational and Professional Employees;

(5) Two appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Education Association and one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Association of Schools;

(6) Two appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Federation of School Administrators;

(7) The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee;

(8) The Commissioners of Higher Education and Education, or their designees;

(9) The Executive Director of the Teachers' Retirement Board, or the executive director's designee; and

(10) The chairpersons and ranking members of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, or their designees.

(c) All appointments to the commission shall be made no later than August 1, 2000. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons of the commission, from among the members of the commission. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the commission, which shall be held no later than September 1, 2000.

(e) The administrative staff of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education shall serve as administrative staff of the commission.

(f) Not later than January 1, 2001, the commission shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The commission shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or January 1, 2001, whichever is earlier.

Sec. 28. (NEW) (a) The Connecticut Employment and Training Commission within the Office of Workforce Competitiveness shall produce, within available appropriations, a report, including a long-range strategic plan, for information technology workforce development, that addresses Connecticut's workforce and research needs as they relate to information technology and electronic commerce. The commission shall work with the Commissioners of Economic and Community Development, Education and Higher Education and any business-related association or organization that the commission deems appropriate in creating a planning structure, no later than July 5, 2000, to develop the plan. The planning structure shall include representation from the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, the General Assembly, the Departments of Education, Higher Education and Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Innovations, Incorporated, information technology and software companies, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, the Connecticut Technology Council, The University of Connecticut, the Connecticut State University System, the community-technical colleges, Charter Oak State College, the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges and any other representatives including regional and state-wide business and technology associations the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission and commissioners deem necessary.

(b) The report shall specify: (1) The number and job descriptions of workers in information technology intensive occupations and the associated occupational codes for those occupations as identified through the Standard Occupational Code classification system of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, (2) a forecasted assessment of demand by Connecticut employers in those occupations for two, five and ten years from July 1, 2000, (3) methods to generate a sufficient number of information technology graduates to fill identified needs, including, but not limited to, scholarship, school-to-career and internship programs, (4) methods to effectively link appropriate and trained graduates to information technology jobs in this state, including, but not limited to, loan reimbursement programs, (5) what programmatic and curricular emphasis should be developed to support the growth of electronic commerce, software and information technology industries, (6) methods secondary and higher education and private industry can use to continue to address information technology workforce needs as they change and evolve over time, and (7) an assessment of existing state initiatives directed at improving workforce development in Connecticut's information technology and software industries and a method for ensuring such industries are informed, on a continual basis, of these and other workforce development options as they are implemented.

(c) The commission shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the General Assembly and the Governor by October 16, 2000. The report shall include the specifications of the plan. The commission may, prior to the completion of the report, release findings, data, conclusions or other content on an ongoing basis.

Sec. 29. (NEW) The Department of Economic and Community Development shall maintain a registry of qualifying electronic commerce or information technology intensive companies for the purposes of sections 30 and 31 of this act. An updated registry shall be made available on the department's web page.

Sec. 30. (NEW) (a) There is established a Connecticut information technology scholarship pilot program administered by the Department of Higher Education.

(b) Within available appropriations, the program shall provide grants for students entering or enrolling in an information technology related degree or certification program at any public or independent institution of higher education in this state. The scholarship shall not exceed three thousand dollars per student per year. The scholarship shall not exceed the combined costs of tuition and fees of an institution at which a recipient is or will be enrolled. The Department of Higher Education shall develop eligibility requirements for recipients. Such requirements may include income guidelines. Students shall be eligible for such scholarships for each year enrolled in an information technology related degree or certification program for a total of not more than four years per student. Students may apply for such scholarships to the Department of Higher Education at such time and in such manner as the Commissioner of Higher Education prescribes.

(c) The Department of Higher Education may accept donations for such scholarship program.

(d) The recipients of scholarships pursuant to this section for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, shall constitute a cohort and scholarships for succeeding years shall only be available to members of such cohort.

(e) Any unexpended funds appropriated for purposes of this section shall not lapse at the end of the fiscal year but shall be available for expenditure during the next fiscal year.

(f) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the Department of Higher Education may use up to five per cent of the funds appropriated for purposes of this section for program administration, promotion, recruitment and retention activities.

Sec. 31. (NEW) (a) There is established an information technology loan reimbursement pilot program administered by the Department of Higher Education.

(b) Within available appropriations, the program shall provide a student loan reimbursement grant for persons who (1) attended any institution of higher education, (2) majored in an information technology related field, and (3) are newly employed on or after January 1, 2001, by an electronic commerce or information technology intensive company, that has registered with or otherwise been qualified by the Department of Economic and Community Development pursuant to section 29 of this act, in an information technology intensive occupation verified by the department and identified in the strategic plan produced pursuant to section 28 of this act.

(c) Persons who qualify under subsection (b) of this section shall be reimbursed on an annual basis for qualifying student loan payments in an amount equal to such loan payments paid by that person during the previous taxable year but not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars for each year of employment and for no more than a total of two years per person. A person qualifying under subsection (b) of this section shall only be reimbursed for loan payments made while such person was employed by a qualifying company. The Department of Higher Education shall develop eligibility requirements for recipients. Such requirements may include income guidelines. Persons may apply for grants to the Department of Higher Education at such time and in such manner as the Commissioner of Higher Education prescribes.

(d) The recipients of reimbursements pursuant to this section for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, shall constitute a cohort and reimbursements for succeeding years shall only be available for members of such cohort.

(e) Any unexpended funds appropriated for purposes of this section shall not lapse at the end of the fiscal year but shall be available for expenditure during the next fiscal year.

(f) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the Department of Higher Education may use up to five per cent of the funds appropriated for purposes of this section for program administration, promotion and recruitment activities.

Sec. 32. (NEW) The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development shall assist in the development of a partnership between organizations, including, but not limited to, registered or otherwise qualified electronic commerce or information technology intensive companies, nonprofit organizations, business associations, state agencies or other nonprofit organizations, business associations, state agencies or other public or private entities as designated by the commissioner to develop a cooperative internship program for students attending institutions of higher education in this state or another state who are majoring in information technology related fields and promotion and recruitment activities that are designed to increase the number of information technology workers in the state.

Sec. 33. (NEW) (a) There is established a Commission for Educational Technology, within the Department of Information Technology, for administrative purposes only. The commission shall consist of: (1) The Chief Information Officer of the Department of Information Technology, or the Chief Information Officer's designee, the Commissioners of Education and Higher Education, or their designees, the State Librarian, or the State Librarian's designee, the chairperson of the Department of Public Utility Control, or the chairperson's designee, the chief executive officers of the constituent units of the state system of higher education, or their designees, (2) one member each representing the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Connecticut Educators Computer Association, and the Connecticut Library Association, (3) a secondary school teacher designated by Connecticut Education Association and an elementary school teacher designated by the Connecticut Federation of Educational and Professional Employees, and (4) four members who represent business and have expertise in information technology, one each appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate. The Lieutenant Governor shall convene the first meeting of the commission on or before September 1, 2000.

(b) The commission shall elect a chairperson from among its members. Subject to the provisions of chapter 67 of the general statutes, and within available appropriations, the commission may appoint an executive director and such other employees as may be necessary for the discharge of the duties of the commission.

(c) The commission shall:

(1) Be the principal educational technology policy advisor for state government;

(2) Develop, oversee and direct the attainment of state-wide technology goals including:

(A) Connecting all institutions of higher education, libraries, public elementary and secondary schools, regional educational service centers and other parties through a state-wide high speed, flexible network that will allow for video, voice and data transmission.

(B) Wiring all school classrooms and connecting them to the Internet and to the state-wide high speed network through wired, wireless, or any other digital transmission technology providing high speed connectivity.

(C) Providing access for all public libraries and libraries at institutions of higher education to a core set of on-line full text resources and to the ability to purchase collaboratively for other collections in order to maximize buying power.

(D) Ensuring, in cooperation with the State Board of Education, competency in computing skills by the sixth grade for all students.

(E) Ensuring competency in specific computing skills and the integration of technology into the curriculum for all public school teachers.

(F) Ensuring that institutions of higher education offer a wide range of course and degree programs via the Internet and through other synchronous and asynchronous methods.

(3) Coordinate the activities of all state agencies, educational institutions and other parties involved in the creation and management of a reliable and secure network that will offer connectivity and allow for the transmission of video, voice and data transmission to every library, school, regional educational service center and institution of higher education;

(4) Be the liaison between the Governor and the General Assembly and local, state and federal organizations and entities with respect to educational technology matters;

(5) Develop and maintain a long-range plan and make related recommendations for the coordination of educational technology. The plan shall (A) establish clear goals and a strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education, (B) include a professional development strategy to ensure that teachers and faculty know how to use the new technologies to improve education, (C) include an assessment of the telecommunications, hardware, software and other services that will be needed to improve education, and (D) include an evaluation process that monitors progress towards the specified goals;

(6) Measure the availability and usage of Internet access sites available to the public, including, but not limited to, those maintained by state and local government agencies, libraries, schools, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, businesses and other organizations and recommend strategies for reducing the disparities in Internet accessibility and usage across the state and among all potential users;

(7) Establish methods and procedures to ensure the maximum involvement of members of the public, educators, librarians, representatives of higher education, the legislature and local officials in educational technology matters and organize, as necessary, advisory boards consisting of individuals with expertise in a particular discipline significant to the work of the commission;

(8) On or before January 1, 2001, and annually thereafter, the commission shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, on its activities, progress made in the attainment of the state-wide technology goals as outlined in the long-range plan and any recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies, the State Board of Education, and the Board of Governors of Higher Education. The report shall include recommendations for adjustments to the funding formula for grants pursuant to section 40 of this act if there are school districts that are at a disadvantage in terms of wiring their schools and the use of technology in their schools;

(9) Enter into such contractual agreements, in accordance with established procedures, as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section;

(10) Take any other action necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.

(d) The Commission for Educational Technology may request any office, department, board, commission or other agency of the state to supply such reports, information and assistance as may be necessary or appropriate in order to carry out its duties and requirements.

(e) For purposes of this section, educational technology shall include, but not be limited to: (1) Computer-assisted instruction; (2) information retrieval and data transfer; (3) telecommunications related to voice, data and video transmission of instruction related materials and courses; (4) the development and acquisition of educational software; and (5) the instructional uses of the Internet and other technologies.

Sec. 34. (NEW) There is established an Educational Technology Fund. The Commission on Educational Technology shall deposit in said fund any private donation, bequest or devise made to it to assist in the attainment of the state-wide technology goals established pursuant to subdivision (2) of subsection (c) of section 33 of this act. Said fund is intended to be in addition to those resources that are appropriated by the state for technology purposes. The commission shall use the resources of the fund for activities related to the attainment of such goals.

Sec. 35. (NEW) (a) The Commission for Educational Technology shall develop, with the advice and assistance of the State Board of Education, the Board of Governors of Higher Education and the Department of Information Technology, a five-year plan for the implementation of the Connecticut Education Network to provide state-of-the-art, high-speed, reliable Internet access and video, voice and data transmissions that electronically link all educational institutions in the state, including public and independent institutions of higher education, the state's libraries and all elementary, middle and secondary schools and other institutions including businesses, job centers and community organizations. The plan shall include the establishment of a Connecticut Digital Library as a component of the Connecticut Education Network to ensure on-line access by all students and citizens to essential library and information resources. The State Library, in conjunction with the Department of Higher Education, shall administer the Connecticut Digital Library. The Connecticut Digital Library shall provide access to available on-line electronic full-text databases, a state-wide electronic catalog and interlibrary loan system and the electronic and physical delivery of library resources. The Connecticut Digital Library shall include elements specifically designed to meet the educational and research needs of the general public, higher education students and faculty and elementary and secondary school students and teachers.

(b) The commission shall oversee the preparation and submission of a state-wide application to the federal Universal Service Fund to enhance connectivity to the Connecticut Education Network, maximize participation and grant attainment rates, and reduce overly burdensome administrative requirements which discourage local involvement. The commission shall prepare a feasibility report which sets forth (1) a review of how and under what circumstances other states have successfully submitted state-wide applications to the Universal Service Fund, (2) an analysis of what should specifically be incorporated into this state's application, and (3) an outline of necessary actions to be taken by the commission for completion of a state-wide Universal Service Fund application. The commission shall work, in consultation with the Departments of Education, Higher Education and the regional educational service centers on the feasibility report. No later than March 31, 2001, and for every subsequent universal service funding cycle, the commission shall submit a state-wide application for universal service funds.

Sec. 36. (NEW) (a) The Department of Information Technology, in consultation with the Department of Education, shall provide (1) technical assistance to local and regional boards of education and regional vocational-technical schools to expand their educational technology capabilities, including, but not limited to, wiring, Internet connectivity and technical support, and (2) opportunities for such boards of education and schools to purchase under state-wide contracts.

(b) The department shall report, annually, 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 assistance provided pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 37. Two per cent of the amount appropriated to the Department of Information Technology for Connecticut education technology initiatives, from the General Fund, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, pursuant to special act 00-13 may be used by the department for purposes of subsection (b) of section 33 of this act and for section 36 of this act.

Sec. 38. (NEW) The Department of Information Technology, after consultation with the Commission for Educational Technology and the State Board of Education, shall develop minimum and model technology standards, including wiring, wireless and connectivity standards, for school construction projects under chapter 173 of the general statutes, and for the grant program established pursuant to section 41 of this act.

Sec. 39. Section 10-145d of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (e) as follows:

(NEW) (e) The State Board of Education shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to provide standards for the certification of computer science teachers. Such regulations shall make provision for certification requirements to be met by either (1) completion of prescribed courses of study, or (2) such other experience as the state board shall deem appropriate.

Sec. 40. (NEW) The Board for State Academic Awards shall establish, within available appropriations, innovative on-line teacher and higher education faculty training programs on the integration of technology into the public school curriculum and courses at public institutions of higher education in order to improve student learning. On and after July 1, 2001, the training program established for public school teachers shall be consistent with the standards developed pursuant to section 42 of this act.

Sec. 41. (NEW) (a) The Department of Education shall administer, within available appropriations, a program to assist local and regional school districts to improve the use of information technology in their schools. Under the program, the department shall provide grants to local and regional boards of education and may provide other forms of assistance such as the provision of purchasing under state-wide contracts with the Department of Information Technology. Grant funds may be used for: (1) Wiring and connectivity, (2) the purchase or leasing of computers, and (3) interactive software and the purchase and installation of software filters.

(b) Local and regional boards of education shall apply to the department for grants at such time and in such manner as the Commissioner of Education prescribes. In order to be eligible for a grant, a local or regional board of education shall: (1) Have a technology plan that was developed or updated during the two-year period preceding the date of application for grant funds and, once the Commission for Educational Technology develops the long-range plan required pursuant to subdivision (5) of subsection (c) of section 33 of this act, the local technology plan shall be consistent with such long-range plan, (2) provide that each school and superintendent's office be able to communicate with the Department of Education using the Internet, (3) present evidence that it has applied or will apply for a grant from the federal Universal Service Fund, and (4) submit a plan for the expenditure of grant funds in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

(c) The plan for the expenditure of grant funds shall: (1) Establish clear goals and a strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education, (2) include a professional development strategy to ensure that teachers know how to use the new technologies to improve education, (3) include an assessment of the telecommunication services, hardware, software and other services that will be needed to improve education, (4) provide for a sufficient budget to acquire and maintain the hardware, software, professional development and other services that will be needed to implement the strategy for improved education, (5) include an evaluation process that enables the school to monitor progress towards the specified goals and make adjustments in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise. The plan developed pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted to the department with the grant application.

(d) (1) Each school district shall be eligible to receive a minimum grant under the program in the amount of ten thousand dollars and such minimum grant may be increased for certain school districts pursuant to subdivision (4) of this subsection. (2) The department shall use (A) one hundred thousand dollars of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for the vocational-technical schools for wiring and other technology initiatives at such schools, and (B) fifty thousand dollars of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for technology grants to state charter schools. The amount of the grant each state charter school receives shall be based on the number of students enrolled in the school. (3) The department may retain up to one per cent of the amount appropriated for purposes of this section for coordination, program evaluation and administration. (4) Any remaining appropriated funds shall be used to increase the grants to (A) priority school districts pursuant to section 10-266p of the general statutes, as amended, (B) transitional school districts pursuant to section 10-263c of the general statutes, as amended, and (C) school districts in towns ranked from one to eighty-five when all towns are ranked in descending order from one to one hundred sixty-nine based on town wealth, as defined in section 10-262f of the general statutes, as amended. Each such school district shall receive an amount based on the ratio of the number of resident students, as defined in said section 10-262f, in such school district to the total number of resident students in all such school districts.

(e) Each school district that participates in an interdistrict magnet school or in an endowed academy shall provide funds from the grant it receives pursuant to this section to such interdistrict magnet school or endowed academy in an amount equal to the per student amount of such grant multiplied by the number of students from such district enrolled in the interdistrict magnet school or endowed academy.

(f) Any unexpended funds appropriated for purposes of this section shall not lapse at the end of the fiscal year but shall be available for expenditure during the next fiscal year.

(g) No funds received pursuant to this section shall be used to supplant federal, state or local funding to the local or regional board of education for technology.

(h) Expenditure reports shall be filed with the Department of Education as requested by the commissioner. School districts shall refund (1) any unexpended amounts at the close of the program for which the grant was awarded, and (2) any amounts not expended in accordance with the approved grant application.

Sec. 42. (NEW) The Commission for Educational Technology, in cooperation with the Department of Education, shall develop, by July 1, 2001, and shall update every two years thereafter: (1) A state-wide standard for teacher and administrator competency in the use of technology for instructional purposes, and (2) a state-wide plan to assist teachers and administrators to achieve the standard. The commission shall assess the resources necessary to achieve such goal. The commission shall submit the plan to the General Assembly.

Sec. 43. (NEW) The Department of Education shall establish, within available appropriations, a competitive grant program to fund innovative teacher training programs on the integration of technology into the public school curriculum in order to improve student learning. On and after July 1, 2001, such training programs shall be consistent with the standards developed pursuant to section 42 of this act.

Sec. 44. (NEW) (a) The State Board of Education shall adopt grade kindergarten to grade twelve, inclusive, computer technology competency standards for students by July 1, 2001. Information on the standards shall be included in the report required pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b) On or before July 1, 2001, and biennially thereafter, the Commissioner of Education 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 status of educational technology in the public schools. The report shall include information on the level of funding needed to assure that the technology needs in the areas of infrastructure improvements, educator professional development, curriculum development and student competency development are met.

Sec. 45. (NEW) The State Library, in consultation with the Commission for Educational Technology, within available appropriations, shall contract, through a request for proposal process, for the development of a Connecticut Parent Technology Academy. The academy shall be host network for the development of increased opportunities for parents of elementary, middle and secondary school students to learn about and demonstrate their knowledge of information technologies. The academy shall: (1) Identify existing programs and best practices for the delivery of information technology training for parents, (2) coordinate the development of curriculum models to be used to train parents in the use of information technologies, and (3) seek business, philanthropic, community and educational partners to expand training locations and learning options for parents. The Commission for Educational Technology shall work in collaboration with the academy to negotiate vendor discounts for computer purchases and upgrades and low interest bank loans for such purchases for parents who successfully complete an information technology training program.

Sec. 46. (NEW) The Department of Education shall develop and maintain, within available appropriations, a centralized web-based site for use by educators in posting and sharing suggested grade-specific or topic-specific lesson plans, curriculum resources and technology resource opportunities, as well as best practices on the use of technology in instruction.

Sec. 47. Subdivision (1) of section 4d-30 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(1) "Contract" means a contract for state agency information system or telecommunication system facilities, equipment or services, which is awarded pursuant to this chapter or subsection (e) of section 1-205, subsection (c) of section 1-211, subsection (b) of section 1-212, section 4-5, [subsection (a) of section 10-4e,] subsection (a) of section 10a-151b, as amended, subsection (a) of section 19a-110 or subsection (b) of section 32-6i.

Sec. 48. Section 4d-47 of the general statutes, as amended by section 7 of public act 99-161, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

With respect to any state employee whose position is eliminated or who is laid off as a result of any contract or amendment to a contract which is subject to the provisions of this chapter and subsection (e) of section 1-205, subsection (c) of section 1-211, subsection (b) of section 1-212, as amended, section 4-5, 4a-50, 4a-51, subsection (b) of section 4a-57, as amended, [subsection (a) of section 10-4e,] subsection (a) of section 10a-151b, as amended, subsection (a) of section 19a-110 or subsection (b) of section 32-6i, or any subcontract for work under such contract or amendment, (1) the contractor shall hire the employee, upon application by the employee, unless the employee is hired by a subcontractor of the contractor, or (2) the employee may transfer to any vacant position in state service for which he is qualified, to the extent allowed under the provisions of existing collectively bargained agreements and the general statutes. If the contractor or any such subcontractor hires any such state employee and does not provide the employee with fringe benefits which are equivalent to, or greater than, the fringe benefits that the employee would have received in state service, the state shall, for two years after the employee terminates from state service, provide to the employee either (A) the same benefits that he received from the state or (B) compensation in an amount which represents the difference in the value of the fringe benefits that he received when in state service and the fringe benefits that he receives from the contractor or subcontractor.

Sec. 49. Section 4d-48 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

No contract or subcontract for state agency information system or telecommunication system facilities, equipment or services may be awarded to any business entity or individual pursuant to this chapter or subsection (e) of section 1-205, subsection (c) of section 1-211, subsection (b) of section 1-212, as amended, section 4-5, [subsection (a) of section 10-4e,] subsection (a) of section 10a-151b, as amended, subsection (a) of section 19a-110 or subsection (b) of section 32-6i if such business entity or individual previously had a contract with the state or a state agency to provide information system or telecommunication system facilities, equipment or services and such prior contract was finally terminated by the state or a state agency within the previous five years for the reason that such business entity or individual failed to perform or otherwise breached a material obligation of the contract related to information system or telecommunication system facilities, equipment or services. If the termination of any such previous contract is contested in an arbitration or judicial proceeding, the termination shall not be final until the conclusion of such arbitration or judicial proceeding. If the fact-finder determines, or a settlement stipulates, that the contractor failed to perform or otherwise breached a material obligation of the contract related to information system or telecommunication system facilities, equipment or services, any award of a contract pursuant to said chapter or sections during the pendency of such arbitration or proceeding shall be rescinded and the bar provided in this section shall apply to such business entity or individual.

Sec. 50. Subsection (a) of section 10-4h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The state Department of Education, in consultation with the [committee established pursuant to section 10-4e] Commission for Educational Technology, shall establish a competitive grant program, within the limit of the bond authorization for purposes of this section, to assist (1) local and regional school districts, (2) regional educational service centers, (3) cooperative arrangements among one or more boards of education, and (4) endowed academies approved pursuant to section 10-34 that are eligible for school building project grants pursuant to chapter 173, to upgrade or install wiring, including electrical wiring, cable or other distribution systems and infrastructure improvements to support telecommunications and other information transmission equipment to be used for educational purposes.

Sec. 51. Subdivision (2) of subsection (d) of section 16-331 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(2) Under special circumstances, the department in its discretion, may issue, renew or transfer a franchise for a term of not more than fifteen years if the franchisee has committed itself, as outlined in the franchise agreement, to provide or maintain technologically advanced equipment, facilities and systems, as determined by the department, to enhance and promote technologically advanced educational programming [, including the programming specified in subsection (b) of section 10-4e,] and to comply with specific quality of service standards, including, but not limited to, the time between installation and repair following a subscriber request, the response time to consumer complaints and the quality of the operator's customer service policies and practices.

Sec. 52. Subdivision (5) of subsection (d) of section 16-331 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(5) The department shall adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54, establishing procedures and standards for the renewal of certificates issued to community antenna television companies. Such regulations shall, without limitation, (A) incorporate the provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 USC 546, (B) require the department to consult with the advisory council for the franchise area served by the certificate holder before making a decision concerning the renewal of the certificate, (C) require any holder of a certificate which is not renewed by the department to continue to operate the franchise for one year after the end of its term or until a successor is chosen and ready to assume control of the franchise, whichever is sooner, (D) establish standards for the content of notices sent to cable subscribers concerning public hearings for franchise renewal proceedings which standards shall include, without limitation, the requirements specified in subdivision (6) of this subsection, (E) establish standards to ensure that the costs and expenses of a municipality constructing, purchasing or operating a community antenna television company are accurately attributed to such company and (F) establish quality standards for the instructional and educational channels. The department shall adopt regulations pursuant to this subdivision in conjunction with the [educational technology committee, established pursuant to section 10-4e] Commission for Educational Technology.

Sec. 53. Subsection (a) of section 16-333h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Each community antenna television company, as defined in section 16-1, as amended, shall, not later than the date it extends energized trunk and feeder to all areas within its franchise territory in which there are at least twenty-five prospective subscribers per aerial plant mile of extension and fifty prospective subscribers per underground plant mile of extension, extend such trunk and feeder to public and private elementary and secondary schools in such franchise areas and offer one instructional television channel as part of its basic service. Each such company may utilize such instructional television channel for noninstructional television programming during any time when the channel is not needed for instructional programming. No such company shall be required to offer the instructional television channel on or after July 1, 1995, unless the [joint committee on educational technology, established under section 10-4e,] Commission for Educational Technology certifies to the Department of Public Utility Control that educational agencies in the company's franchise area have utilized the instructional television channel to provide, during the school year, an average of not less than twenty hours per week of credit and noncredit instructional programming, programming supporting school curricula and programming for professional development.

Sec. 54. The Department of Information Technology shall transfer the sum of ten million dollars appropriated to the Department of Information Technology, from the General Fund, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, pursuant to special act 00-13, to the Department of Education for purposes of the grant program established pursuant to section 41 of this act.

Sec. 55. (NEW) As used in this section and section 56 of this act:

(1) "Corporation" means Connecticut Innovations, Incorporated as created under section 32-35 of the general statutes; and

(2) "Eligible participant" means a member of the faculty or a researcher engaged in applied research and development at any Connecticut college or university that agrees to participate in a high technology research and development program established by the corporation.

Sec. 56. (NEW) (a) There is established a high technology research and development program to be administered by the corporation for the purpose of promoting collaboration between businesses and colleges and universities in this state in advanced materials, aerospace, bioscience, energy and environmental systems, information technology, applied optics, microelectronics and other high technology fields. The corporation may accept applications to the program from eligible participants in a form and manner prescribed by the corporation.

(b) In approving any application the corporation shall assess the collaborative nature of the proposal as well as scientific and economic factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

(1) The formal participation in the proposal by businesses actively engaged in the commercial use of advanced materials, aerospace, bioscience, energy and environmental systems, information technology, applied optics, microelectronics and other high technology fields;

(2) The likelihood that a proposal will result in the development or commercialization of high technology products or processes in this state; and

(3) The likelihood that a proposal will result in long-term, sustainable economic growth for this state.

(c) The corporation shall provide financial aid, as defined in subdivision (4) of section 32-34 of the general statutes, to eligible participants whose proposals have been approved by the corporation as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(d) The corporation may establish other programs, including financial programs, in order to attract and retain residents with postsecondary education in science, engineering, mathematics and other disciplines that are essential or advisable to the development and application of technology.

Sec. 57. Subsection (a) of section 32-265 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) As used in this section: (1) "Authority" means the Connecticut Development Authority, and (2) "financial institution" means [a] an eligible financial institution, as defined in [section 36a-755] subsection (e) of section 32-23d, which is approved by the authority to participate in the program established by this section.

Sec. 58. Section 32-346 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The corporation shall establish a "Connecticut technology partnership assistance program revolving account". Any and all references in any general statutes, procedure or legal document to the "phase III assistance program revolving account" shall, on and after July 1, 1995, be deemed to refer to the "Connecticut technology partnership assistance program revolving account". The account shall be used for the purpose of providing financial assistance under section 32-345 and financial aid under section 56 of this act.

Sec. 59. Section 10-183t of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The board shall offer one or more health benefit plans to any member receiving retirement benefits or a disability allowance from the system, [and] to the spouse or surviving spouse of such member, and to a disabled dependent of such member if there is no spouse or surviving spouse, provided such member, spouse or surviving spouse, or disabled dependent is eligible for Medicare Part A hospital insurance. The board may offer one or more basic plans, [at no cost,] the cost of which to any such member, [and] to the spouse or surviving spouse of such member and to a disabled dependent of such member if there is no spouse or surviving spouse, shall be twenty-five per cent of the basic plan's premium equivalent, and one or more optional plans, provided such member, spouse, [or] surviving spouse or disabled dependent shall pay twenty-five per cent of the basic plan's premium equivalent plus the difference in cost between any such basic plans and any such optional plans. The board shall designate those plans which are basic and those plans which are optional for the purpose of determining such cost and the amount to be charged or withheld from benefit payments for such [optional plan coverage] plans. The surviving spouse of a member, or a disabled dependent of a member if there is no surviving spouse, shall not be ineligible for participation in any such plan solely because such surviving spouse or such disabled dependent is not receiving benefits from the system. [On and after July 1, 1998, the board shall pay the full cost of health insurance for any member, spouse or surviving spouse participating in a basic health insurance plan offered pursuant to this subsection.] With respect to any person participating in any such plan, the state shall appropriate to the board twenty-five per cent of the cost of such basic plan or plans, or twenty-five per cent of the cost of the rate in effect during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, whichever is greater.

(b) Any member who is receiving retirement benefits or a disability allowance from the system, [or] the spouse or surviving spouse of such member, or a disabled dependent of such member if there is no spouse or surviving spouse, and who is not participating in Medicare Part A hospital insurance, may fully participate in any or all group health insurance plans maintained for active teachers by such member's last employing board of education, or by the state in the case of a member who was employed by the state, upon payment to such board of education or to the state, as applicable, by such member, spouse or surviving spouse, or disabled dependent, of the premium charged for his form of coverage. Such premium shall be no greater than that charged for the same form of coverage for active teachers. The surviving spouse or disabled dependent shall not be ineligible for participation in any such plan solely because such surviving spouse or disabled dependent is not receiving benefits from the system. No person shall be ineligible for participation in such plans for failure to enroll in such plans at the time the member's retirement benefit or disability allowance became effective. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or alter the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement relating to the payment by a board of education of group health insurance premiums on behalf of any member receiving benefits from the system. Prior to the cancellation of coverage for any member, spouse or surviving spouse for failure to pay the required premiums or cost due, the board of education or the state, if applicable, shall notify the Teachers' Retirement Board of its intention to cancel such coverage at least thirty days prior to the date of cancellation. [absent] Absent any contractual provisions to the contrary, the payments made pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall be first applied to any cost borne by the member, spouse or surviving spouse participating in any such plan. As used in this subsection, "last employing board of education" means the board of education with which such member filed his initial application for retirement, and "health insurance plans" means hospital, medical, major medical, dental, prescription drug or auditory benefit plans that are available to active teachers.

(c) On and after July 1, [1998] 2000, the board shall pay [an amount equal to the cost of a basic health insurance plan] a subsidy equal to the subsidy paid in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, to the board of education or to the state, if applicable, on behalf of any member who is receiving retirement benefits or a disability allowance from the system, or the spouse [or] surviving spouse of such member, or a disabled dependent of such member if there is no spouse or surviving spouse, who is participating in a health insurance plan maintained by a board of education or by the state, if applicable. Such payment shall not [be less than the rate which was in effect during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, and shall not] exceed the actual cost of such insurance. With respect to any person participating in any such plan pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the state shall appropriate to the board twenty-five per cent of the cost of [such basic plan or plans, or twenty-five per cent of the cost of the rate in effect during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, whichever is greater] the subsidy. No payment to a board of education pursuant to this subsection may be used to reduce the amount of any premium payment on behalf of any such member, spouse or surviving spouse, or disabled dependent, made by such board pursuant to any agreement in effect on July 1, 1990.

(d) The Treasurer shall establish a separate retired teachers' health insurance premium account within the Teachers' Retirement Fund. Commencing July 1, 1989, and annually thereafter all one per cent contributions withheld under this chapter in excess of five hundred thousand dollars shall, upon deposit in the Teachers' Retirement Fund, be credited to such account. Interest derived from the investment of funds in the account shall be credited to the account. Funds in the account shall be used for payments to boards of education pursuant to subsection (c) of this section and for payment of premiums on behalf of members or surviving spouses of members participating in one or more health insurance plans pursuant to subsection (a) of this section in an amount equal to the difference between the amount paid pursuant to said subsection (a) and the amount paid pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. If, during any fiscal year, there are insufficient funds in the account for the purposes of all such payments, the General Assembly shall appropriate sufficient funds to the account for such purpose.

Sec. 60. (NEW) Any retired member who (1) has attained the age of sixty-five, (2) is not eligible for Medicare Part A, (3) is not receiving a spousal subsidy, (4) has twenty-five years or more of full-time service, and (5) is receiving a monthly benefit of less than fifteen hundred dollars as of July 1, 2000, shall receive a subsidy equal to twice the amount that would otherwise be payable on such member's behalf to the board of education pursuant to section 10-183t of the general statutes, as amended by this act.

Sec. 61. (NEW) Any member who began receiving disability benefits October 1, 1977, under the provisions of subsection (d) of section 10-166 of the general statutes and who elected to receive benefits in accordance with the former provisions of subsection (c) of section 10-164-7 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies in effect June 30, 1978, may elect to receive such benefits readjusted under the provisions of subsection (b) or (c) of section 10-183j of the general statutes, provided such member provides written notice of such election to the Teachers' Retirement Board not later than ninety days following January 1, 2001.

Sec. 62. (a) There is established a task force to study the teachers' retirement health insurance system.

(b) The task force shall consist of the following members: (1) The chairperson of the Teachers' Retirement Board, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, the Commissioner of Education, the Insurance Commissioner, the State Comptroller, or their designees; and (2) four public members one each appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives and the minority leader of the Senate who shall be experienced in the management of large health insurance plans, one each appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate and the minority leader of the House of Representatives who shall be representatives of the plan participants.

(c) All appointments to the task force shall be made no later than sixty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee, shall serve as chairperson of the task force and shall convene the task force not later than July 15, 2000.

(e) The task force shall conduct an independent study of the health insurance benefits offered by the Teachers' Retirement Board and the funding of the teachers' retirement health insurance program in order to make recommendations concerning: (1) The long-term solvency of the fund; (2) the method of funding for the municipal subsidy and the state plans; (3) the expected future levels of cost to the state, active teachers and retired teachers covered by the system; (4) the level of benefits that should be offered by the system; and (5) the impact of an aging teacher population on the system's ability to provide these benefits in the future.

(f) The task force shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly not later than December 15, 2000, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

Sec. 63. Section 10-183b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Actuarial reserve basis" means a basis under which the liabilities of the retirement system are determined under acceptable actuarial methods and under which assets are accumulated under a program designed to achieve a proper balance between the accumulated assets and the liabilities of the system.

(2) "Amortization of unfunded liabilities" means a systematic program of annual payments determined as a level per cent of expected member annual salaries in lieu of a lump sum payment.

(3) "Annual salary" means the annual salary rate for service as a Connecticut teacher during a school year but not including unused sick leave, unused vacation, terminal pay, coaching or extra duty assignments, unless compensation for coaching or extra duty assignment was included in salary for which contributions were made prior to July 1, 1971. In no event shall annual salary include amounts determined by the board to be included for the purpose of inflating the member's average annual salary. The inclusion in annual salary of amounts paid to the member, in lieu of payment by the employer for the cost of benefits, insurance, or individual retirement arrangements which in prior years had been paid by the employer and not included in the member's annual salary, shall be prima facie evidence that such amounts are included for the purpose of inflating the member's average annual salary. Annual salary shall not include payments the timing of which may be directed by the member. Annual salary shall not include payments to a superintendent pursuant to an individual contract between such superintendent and a board of education, of amounts which are not included in base salary. Annual salary shall include amounts paid to the member during a sabbatical leave during which mandatory contributions were remitted, provided such member returned to full-time teaching for at least five full years following the completion of such leave.

(4) "Average annual salary" means the average annual salary received during the three years of highest salary.

(5) "Board" means the Teachers' Retirement Board.

(6) "Child" means a natural child, an adopted child, or a stepchild of a deceased member who has been a stepchild for at least one year immediately prior to the date on which the member died. A child is a "dependent child" of a deceased member if at the time of the member's death (A) the member was living with the child or providing or obligated to provide, by agreement or court order, a reasonable portion of the support of the child and (B) the child (i) is unmarried and has not attained age eighteen or (ii) is disabled and such disability began prior to the child attaining age eighteen.

(7) "Contributions" mean amounts withheld pursuant to this chapter and paid to the board by an employer from compensation payable to a member. "Mandatory contributions" are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of "six per cent contributions" and "one per cent contributions". "Voluntary contributions" are contributions by a member authorized to be withheld under section 10-183i.

(8) "Credited interest" means interest at the rate from time to time fixed by the board which shall be substantially that earned by the funds of the system. Such interest shall be [compounded annually on the last day of June] applied to a member's account based on the balance as of the previous June thirtieth. Credited interest shall be assessed on any mandatory contributions which were due but not remitted prior to the close of the school year for which salary was paid.

(9) "Current service" means service rendered in the current fiscal year.

(10) "Dependent former spouse" means a former spouse of a deceased member who (A) has in his or her care a dependent child of the deceased member; and (B) was receiving, or was entitled to receive, from the deceased member at the time of the death of the deceased member, at least one-half of his or her support; and (C) has not remarried; and (D) is the parent of the child or adopted the child while married to the member and before the child attained age eighteen or, while married to the member, both of them adopted the child before the child attained age eighteen.

(11) "Dependent parent" means a parent of a deceased member who (A) has reached the age of sixty-five; and (B) has not married after the death of the member; and (C) was receiving at least one-half of his or her support from the member at the time of the member's death and files proof of such support within two years of the date of the member's death; and (D) is not receiving, or entitled to a federal or state old age benefit based on the parent's own earnings, equal to or greater than the amount the parent would be entitled to as a dependent parent under this chapter. A "parent of a deceased member" is (A) the mother or father of a deceased member; or (B) a stepparent of a deceased member by a marriage entered into before the member attained age sixteen; or (C) an adopting parent of a deceased member who adopted the deceased member before the member attained age sixteen.

(12) "Designated beneficiary" means a person designated on a form prescribed by the board by a member to receive amounts which become payable under this chapter as the result of the member's death whether before or after retirement. If a designated beneficiary is not living at the time of the death of a member, the amounts that would have been payable to the designated beneficiary shall be paid to the member's estate.

(13) "Disabled" means inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued and indefinite duration, except that during the first twenty-four months that a member is receiving a disability allowance, "disabled" means the inability to perform the usual duties of his occupation by reason of any such impairment.

(14) "Employer" means an elected school committee, a board of education, the State Board of Education, the board of governors or any of its constituent units, the governing body of the Children's Center, the E. O. Smith School and any other activity, institution or school employing members.

(15) "Formal leave of absence" means any absence from active service in the public schools of Connecticut formally granted by a member's employer as evidenced by contemporary records of the employer, provided in the case of an absence due to illness, medical or other evidence of such illness may, at the discretion of the Teachers' Retirement Board, be accepted in lieu of evidence of the formal granting of a leave.

(16) "Formal application of retirement" means the member's application, birth certificate or notarized statement supported by other evidence satisfactory to the board, in lieu thereof, records of service when required by the board to determine a salary rate or years of creditable service, [legal teacher's certificate,] statement of payment plan and, in the case of an application for a disability benefit, a physician's statement of health.

(17) "Funding" means the accumulation of assets in advance of the payment of retirement allowances in accordance with a definite actuarial program.

(18) "Member" means any Connecticut teacher employed for an average of at least one-half of each school day, except that no teacher who under any provision of the general statutes elects not to participate in the system shall be a member unless and until the teacher elects to participate in the system. Members teaching in a nonpublic school classified as a public school by the board under the provisions of this section may continue as members as long as they continue as teachers in such school even if the school ceases to be so classified. A former teacher who has not withdrawn his or her accumulated contributions shall be an "inactive member". A member who, during the period of a formal leave of absence granted by his or her employer, but not exceeding an aggregate of ten school months, continues to make mandatory contributions to the board, retains his or her status as an active member.

(19) "Normal cost" means the amount of contribution which the state is required to make into the retirement fund in order to meet the actuarial cost of current service.

(20) "Public school" means any day school conducted within or without this state under the orders and superintendence of a duly elected school committee, a board of education, the State Board of Education, the board of governors or any of its constituent units, the E. O. Smith School, the Children's Center, joint activities of boards of education authorized by subsection (b) of section 10-158a and any institution supported by the state at which teachers are employed or any incorporated secondary school not under the orders and superintendence of a duly elected school committee or board of education but located in a town not maintaining a high school and providing free tuition to pupils of the town in which it is located, and which has been approved by the State Board of Education under the provisions of part II of chapter 164, provided that such institution or such secondary school is classified as a public school by the retirement board.

(21) "Retirement allowance" means payments for life derived from member contributions, including credited interest, and contributions from the state.

(22) "School year" means the twelve months ending on June thirtieth of each year.

(23) "Surviving spouse" means a widow or widower of a deceased member who (A) was living with the member at the time of the member's death, or receiving, or entitled by court order or agreement to receive, regular support payments from the member and (B) has not remarried.

(24) "Survivors" means a surviving spouse, a dependent former spouse, a dependent child and a dependent parent.

(25) "System" means the Connecticut teachers' retirement system.

(26) "Teacher" means (1) any teacher, permanent substitute teacher, principal, assistant principal, supervisor, assistant superintendent or superintendent employed by the public schools in a professional capacity while possessing a certificate or permit issued by the State Board of Education, provided on and after July 1, 1975, such certificate shall be for the position in which the person is then employed, (2) certified personnel who provide health and welfare services for children in nonprofit schools, as provided in section 10-217a, under an oral or written agreement, (3) any person who is engaged in teaching or supervising schools for adults if the annual salary paid for such service is equal to or greater than the minimum salary paid for a regular, full-time teaching position in the day schools in the town where such service is rendered, and (4) a member of the professional staff of the State Board of Education or of the Board of Governors of Higher Education or any of its constituent units. A "permanent substitute teacher" is one who serves as such for at least ten months during any school year.

(27) "Unfunded liability" means the actuarially determined value of the liability for service before the date of the actuarial valuation less the accumulated assets in the retirement fund.

Sec. 64. Subsection (c) of section 10-183j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(c) A coparticipant's option may be elected in which the member receives an actuarially reduced benefit as provided in subsection (d) of this section and upon such member's death, one-third, one-half, two-thirds, three-fourths or all of such amount is paid to such member's designated beneficiary for life. With respect to any benefits which become effective on or after January 1, 2001, if twenty-five per cent of the aggregate benefits paid to the member or such member's designated beneficiary are, upon the death of such member or such designated beneficiary, less than such member's accumulated contributions plus credited interest, the estate of such member or such designated beneficiary, as appropriate, shall be paid a lump sum amount equal to the difference between such aggregate benefits paid and such accumulated contributions plus credited interest.

Sec. 65. Subsection (b) of section 10-183n of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(b) Each local treasurer or other person having custody of amounts deducted under this chapter by an employer shall transmit and report such amounts to the board so that they are received by said board no later than the [last] fifth business day of the following month. On and after July 1, 2001, all such amounts shall be transmitted via electronic transfer of funds. Such amounts shall at all times be the property of the system and while in the custody of such local treasurer or other person such person is a fiduciary with respect to such amounts and shall discharge his responsibilities solely for the benefit of the system. Said board shall be entitled to receive from an employer interest at the rate of nine per cent per year from the due date on all amounts deducted by such employer and not received by said board [within one calendar month of the due date for the receipt of such amounts] by the fifth business day of the following month. Interest at the rate of nine per cent per year shall be compounded annually on the interest assessed from the date payment is received to the date the interest assessment is paid. Such interest shall be treated as an amount earned by assets of the system.

Sec. 66. Section 10-183ii of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The Teachers' Retirement Board shall mail retirement benefit checks [not later than three business days] on the next to last business day prior to the date on which such checks are payable. Any member whose retirement benefits become effective on or after January 1, 2001, shall be required to have the monthly benefit payment electronically transmitted to the financial entity of such member's choice. The board shall transmit such benefit payment on the last business day of each month.

Sec. 67. Subsection (g) of section 10-183g of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(g) A member's complete formal application for retirement, if sent by mail, shall be deemed to have been filed with the board on the date such application is postmarked. No benefit computed under subsections (a) to (d), inclusive, of this section and under subsections (a) to (g), inclusive, of section 10-183aa shall become effective until the end of the calendar month of the filing by the member with the board of a complete formal application for retirement. Such benefit shall accrue from the first day of the month following such calendar month and payment of such benefit in equal monthly instalments shall commence on the last day of the month in which such benefit begins to accrue. Upon a finding that extenuating circumstances relating to the health of a member caused a delay in the filing of the member's complete formal application, and such application is filed on or after July 1, 1986, the board may deem such application to have been filed up to three months earlier than the actual date of the filing. Upon a finding that extenuating circumstances related to the health of a member caused a delay in the filing of an election pursuant to subsection (g) of section 10-183aa, and such election is filed on or after July 1, 1986, the board may deem such election to have been filed as of the date such member's benefits would otherwise have been converted to a normal retirement allowance, provided such member's disability allowance became effective on or before November 1, 1976, and such member attained the age of sixty on or after August 1, 1984.

Sec. 68. Section 10-66j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The State Board of Education shall encourage the formation of a state-wide system of regional educational service centers and shall adopt regulations with respect to standards for review and approval of regional education service centers in accordance with sections 10-66a and 10-66h.

[(b) The board of a regional educational service center may annually apply to the State Board of Education for and shall thereafter receive a grant in the amount of eighty-five thousand dollars.

(c) If in any fiscal year, the funds appropriated for purposes of sections 10-66a, 10-66c, 10-66f to 10-66i, inclusive, 10-66m and this section exceed the amount necessary to provide grants in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the applicant board of a regional educational service center shall receive an additional grant in an amount equal to the product obtained by multiplying the appropriation available for the purpose of this subsection by the ratio which the sum of state aid pursuant to section 10-262h for member boards of education of the center bears to the sum of such state aid for all such boards state-wide. Each regional educational service center shall annually expend any funds appropriated in excess of three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars under this subsection to assist local and regional boards of education in implementing the educational goals and objectives specifically identified by the State Board of Education.

(d) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1996, and for each fiscal year thereafter, each regional educational service center shall be entitled to a grant in the following amount:

 

CREC

$263,762

 

EDUCATION CONNECTION

90,000

 

CES

209,393

 

ACES

219,292

 

LEARN

81,623

 

EASTCONN

299,161]

(b) Each regional educational service center shall receive an annual grant equal to the sum of the following:

(1) An amount equal to fifty per cent of the total amount appropriated for purposes of this section divided by six;

(2) An amount equal to twenty-five per cent of such appropriation multiplied by the ratio of the number of its member boards of education to the total number of member boards of education state-wide; and

(3) An amount equal to twenty-five per cent of such appropriation multiplied by the ratio of the sum of state aid pursuant to section 10-262h for all of its member boards of education to the total amount of state aid pursuant to section 10-262h state-wide.

(c) Each regional educational service center shall annually expend at least six and one-quarter per cent of the amount received pursuant to this section to assist local and regional boards of education implementing the educational goals and objectives specifically identified by the State Board of Education.

(d) Within the available appropriation, no regional educational service center shall receive less aid pursuant to subsection (b) of this section than it received for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999. Amounts determined for regional educational service centers pursuant to subsection (b) of this section in excess of the amounts received for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999, shall be reduced proportionately to implement such provision if necessary.

Sec. 69. Section 10-221a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

[Commencing with classes graduating in 1988, and for each graduating class thereafter,]

(a) For classes graduating from 1988 to 2003, inclusive, no local or regional board of education shall permit any student to graduate from high school or grant a diploma to any student who has not satisfactorily completed a minimum of twenty credits, not fewer than four of which shall be in English, not fewer than three in mathematics, not fewer than three in social studies, not fewer than two in science, not fewer than one in the arts or vocational education and not fewer than one in physical education.

(b) Commencing with classes graduating in 2004, and for each graduating class thereafter, no local or regional board of education shall permit any student to graduate from high school or grant a diploma to any student who has not satisfactorily completed a minimum of twenty credits, not fewer than four of which shall be in English, not fewer than three in mathematics, not fewer than three in social studies, including at least a one-half credit course on civics and American government, not fewer than two in science, not fewer than one in the arts or vocational education and not fewer than one in physical education.

(c) Any student who presents a certificate from a physician stating that, in the opinion of the physician, participation in physical education is medically contraindicated because of the physical condition of such student, shall be excused from the physical education requirement, provided the credit for physical education may be fulfilled by an elective.

(d) Determination of eligible credits shall be at the discretion of the local or regional board of education, provided the primary focus of the curriculum of eligible credits corresponds directly to the subject matter of the specified course requirements. The local or regional board of education may permit a student to graduate during a period of expulsion pursuant to section 10-233d, if the board determines the student has satisfactorily completed the necessary credits pursuant to this section. The requirements of this section shall apply to any student requiring special education pursuant to section 10-76a, except when the planning and placement team for such student determines the requirement not to be appropriate. For purposes of this section, a credit shall consist of not less than the equivalent of a forty-minute class period for each school day of a school year except for a credit or part of a credit toward high school graduation earned at an institution accredited by the Department of Higher Education or regionally accredited.

(e) Only courses taken in grades nine through twelve, inclusive, shall satisfy this graduation requirement, except that a local or regional board of education may grant a student credit (1) toward meeting a specified course requirement upon the successful completion in grade seven or eight of any course, the primary focus of which corresponds directly to the subject matter of a specified course requirement in grades nine to twelve, inclusive; or (2) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of coursework at an institution accredited by the Department of Higher Education or regionally accredited. One three-credit semester course, or its equivalent, at such an institution shall equal one-half credit for purposes of this section.

(f) A local or regional board of education may offer one-half credit in community service which, if satisfactorily completed, shall qualify for high school graduation credit pursuant to this section, provided such community service is supervised by a certified school administrator or teacher and consists of not less than fifty hours of actual service that may be performed at times when school is not regularly in session and not less than ten hours of related classroom instruction. For purposes of this section, community service does not include partisan political activities. The State Board of Education shall assist local and regional boards of education in meeting the requirements of this section.

Sec. 70. The State Fire Marshal and the Commissioner of Higher Education shall jointly study the need for a change to the State Fire Code for college dormitories. They shall survey public and independent institutions of higher education to determine the number of dormitories that do not have automatic fire extinguishing systems. The State Fire Marshal and the commissioner shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, on the study, including any recommendations for changes to the code and an implementation schedule for such changes, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and public safety by January 1, 2001.

Sec. 71. Subsection (i) of section 5-259 of the general statutes, as amended by section 3 of public act 99-124, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(i) The Comptroller may provide for coverage of municipal employees under the plan or plans procured under subsection (a) of this section, provided: (1) Participation by each municipal employer shall be on a voluntary basis; (2) where an employee organization represents employees in a municipality, participation in a plan or plans to be procured under subsection (a) of this section shall be by mutual agreement of the municipal employer and the employee organization only and neither party may submit the issue of participation to binding arbitration except by mutual agreement; (3) no group of employees shall be refused entry into the plan by reason of past or future health care costs or claim experience; (4) rates paid by the state for its employees under subsection (a) of this section are not adversely affected by this subsection; (5) administrative costs to the plan or plans provided under this subsection shall be paid by the participating municipality at no additional cost to the state; and (6) participation in the plan or plans in an amount determined by the state shall be for the duration of the period of the plan or plans, or for such other period as mutually agreed by the municipality and the Comptroller. For the purposes of this subsection, "municipality" means any town, city, borough, school district, taxing district, fire district, district department of health, probate district, housing authority, regional work force development board established under section 31-3k, as amended, flood commission or authority established by special act, regional planning agency, [or] transit district formed under chapter 103a or the Children's Center established by public act 69-571.

Sec. 72. Up to thirty-seven thousand four hundred dollars of the amount appropriated to the Department of Education for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, for other expenses shall not lapse and shall be available for expenditure during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, for a grant to the Aspirations for Higher Precollegiate Learning Program in New Haven.

Sec. 73. On or before October 15, 2000, the State Board of Education shall provide a one-time supplemental grant to each regional educational service center operating one or more interdistrict magnet schools as follows: (1) The sum of seven hundred fifty thousand dollars for each such magnet school operating under the jurisdiction of a regional educational service center for the first time or expanding to a new school location during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001; (2) the sum of three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars for each such magnet school continuing to operate under the jurisdiction of a regional educational service center for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001; and (3) the sum of two hundred thousand dollars for related support services provided by each such regional educational service center.

Sec. 74. Section 10-4e of the general statutes is repealed.

Sec. 75. This act shall take effect from its passage, except that sections 1 to 19, inclusive, 21, 23 to 36, inclusive, 38 to 53, inclusive, 55 to 61, inclusive, 63 to 69, inclusive, 71, 73 and 74 shall take effect July 1, 2000.

Approved June 1, 2000