NH LEGISLATIVE NEWS
HOME EDUCATION – HB 545 still requires a parent commencing a home education program for a child, whether by withdrawing from the public school or moving into a district, to notify the participating agency (Commissioner of Education, District Superintendent, or Nonpublic School Principal). The new legislation no longer requires an annual notification of their intention to continue home education. The District provides educational opportunities for home education students and it is hoped that our home educators will continue to notify the District annually. This would assist the SAU Office in continuing our practice of issuing identification cards for home education students.
HB1571 has eliminated the requirement for parents to report to the participating agency an evaluation of student progress. It still requires parents to have an evaluation, but does not require them to share this information with the participating agency. This legislation also removes the participating agency’s responsibility to review the results of student evaluations, report to the NHDOE students not making adequate progress for age and ability, and place students with inadequate progress on probationary status. The new legislation does permit use of the evaluation results to demonstrate a student’s academic proficiency in order to participate in public school programs and co-curricular activities. The District requires all resident students in home, charter, private, special education, and public school settings to demonstrate academic eligibility in order to participate in academic and co-curricular activities offered by Epping schools. Home educators will be required to provide an annual evaluation in order to participate in academic and co-curricular activities. HB1571 also expanded school district’s liability protection from students who are home educated to who are and have been educated.
CONCUSSIONS AND HEAD INJURIES – Senate Bill 402 requires the district to develop a policy for the management of concussion and head injury in student sports. It also limits the districts liability for injuries that occur on district property. District policy currently meets the recommendation to develop guidelines and distribute information annually. Our policy also meets the requirement to remove a student from play immediately upon suspecting a concussion or head injury and to require the student to not return to play on the same day or until cleared by written authorization from a health care provider. However, our policy is in the process of being revised to be more explicit as to removing students immediately from play if suspecting a concussion or head injury and requiring written permission from the parent/guardian to return to play. These new regulations become effective August 17, 2012.
RETENTION OF FUND BALANCE FUNDS - Senate Bill 373 authorizes the district to retain funds for emergency expenditures or to reduce the tax rate. The district will, upon approval of the voters, be able to retain a fund balance like town governments. The voters may authorize, until specific rescission, an amount of unassigned funds not to exceed 2.5% of the current fiscal year’s net assessment. These funds may be used as a revenue source for emergency expenditures and over-expenditures or to reduce the tax rate.
SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES FOR CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS – Senate Bill 300 requires charter schools to provide due process for special education and related services to children with disabilities. It also establishes a procedure for provision of special education and services. The resident school district is responsible for convening a meeting of the IEP team. Special education and services will be provided in the least restrictive environment using any or all of the following. Resident district may send staff to charter school.
- Resident district may contract with a service provider to provide services at charter school.
- Resident district may provide services at the resident district school.
- Resident district may provide services at the service provider’s location.
- Resident district may contract with charter school to provide services.
- If the child requires transportation to and/or from the charter school before, after, or during the school day to receive special education and services a provided in the IEP, the resident district shall provide transportation.
The resident district retains the responsibility, including fiscal responsibility, to ensure the provision of education and services per the IEP, and the charter school will cooperate with the resident district in the provision of special education and services.
REPEAL OF RETIREMENT PENALTIES FOR SPIKING - House Bill 1483 repeals the retirement system special account and the assessments for excess benefits paid by employers. The excess benefits came from non-base compensation included in total compensation used to calculate retirement benefits. This was commonly referred to as spiking and previous law required financial penalties on districts and towns practicing spiking. HB 1483 removes the penalties due to retirement system changes made by other legislation.
EDUCATION TAX CREDIT – Senate Bill 372 establishes an education tax credit for businesses that make contributions to student scholarship organizations. The tax credit is applied against the business profits tax and/or business enterprise tax. An “average” scholarship not to exceed $2,500 may be applied to a nonpublic school except if student is placed through special education process. An eligible student must be 5 to 20 years of age and have a household income that is ≤ 300% federal poverty guidelines. A home education student may also receive a scholarship not to exceed 25% of the average scholarship. A minimum value of 175% of the maximum average scholarship size may be granted to a student receiving special education. The value of the scholarship is to be adjusted annually based on the CPI. The intent of the legislation is to promote quality education through competition.
SCHOOL BUILDING AID – House Bill 533 establishes a cap on the amount of building aid distributed each year beginning with construction on or after July 1, 2013. Facilities paid partly through school building aid must be used for 20 years; if not the state is to be repaid for 100% of the building aid. The cap for total building aid, including existing payments and new projects, has been set at $50 million per fiscal year. These funds must be included in the state budget and no bonds shall be authorized for this purpose. For approved projects after July 1, 2013 the state shall disburse 80% of the eligible grant amount upon approval of the school building aid application and the balance upon completion of the construction. Each approved project will have a 20-year maintenance plan for scheduled repairs, upkeep, minor alterations, enhancements, and preventative maintenance. Projects shall be ordered in priority using a ranking system and awarded using this list up to available funding. Ranking shall use a criteria based on need for unsafe conditions, compliance with ADA, overcrowding, enrollment, etc.
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION FUNDING – Senate Bill 404 stated that the resident district was the sending district for charter school students. This means that the resident district is responsible for paying the vocational tuition for charter school students. This bill was opposed by the district.
ADEQUACY AID – Senate Bill 401 changes the determination year from 3 years prior to the school year immediately preceding the school year for which aid is to be determined. The problem is that the use of data 1 year prior may result in adequacy aid adjustments due to variations in the Average Daily Membership of Attendance data. The issue is that the district will not know for sure the adequacy aid figure when developing the budget. The estimated school district’s adequacy aid figure will be guaranteed at 95% (5% for adjustment due to ADMA data). For Epping this could be a variance of up to $157,000 from the estimated figure to the actual aid.
RESIDENCY - The definition of residency has been revised to add that parents in a divorce decree or parenting plan may designate a school district in which either parent resides as the school of attendance. Parents must agree in writing to the district the child will attend and each parent is to furnish a copy of the agreement to the school district in which the parent resides. The law states that nothing in this law shall require a school district to provide transportation for a child to another school in the school district in which the child resides or beyond the geographical limits of the of the school district in which the child resides.
PUPIL IDENTIFIER NUMBER - RSA 155-E:5, I(d) has been amended to require the superintendent to provide a parent/guardian, or student/former student over the age of 18 access to the student’s unique pupil identifier and the student’s data housed in the state data warehouse.
VOTER IDENTIFICATION - Annual meetings and elections require a voter to present a valid photo identification under amended RSA 659:13. If a voter does not have such identification, the voter may complete a challenged voter affidavit. The law states the forms of identification. Photo identification is not required if the moderator, supervisor of the checklist, or the town clerk can verify the voter’s identity.
TAX IMPACT STATEMENTS – RSA 32:5, V-b has been amended to allow the school district meeting to approve a warrant article requiring budget and special warrant articles to include a notation with the estimated tax impact. The school board would determine whether the article has a tax impact and the estimated tax impact.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IMPASSE – If impasse procedures are not specifically addressed in ground rules of negotiation, the procedure under law has been expanded to permit upon request and approval the chief negotiator for the bargaining unit making a presentation directly to the school board and the school board’s chief negotiator making a presentation directly to the bargaining unit. This amendment is effective January 1, 2013.
POST-EMPLOYMENT TRUSTS – Under RSA 31:19-c a school district may create a post-employment benefit trust for benefits received after employment. Benefits do not include pensions.
RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW (Chapter 206) – An amendment to Chapter 206 permits the court to impose civil penalties of not less than $250 and not more than $2500 on an officer, employee, or other school district official for violation of the right-to-know law. The court may also require the person to reimburse the school district for attorney fees and costs and to undergo remedial training at their expense.
State statutes (RSAs) and legislative bills can be referenced by clicking here.