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									                                House of Representatives


                                File No. 803
      General Assembly
        January Session, 2003   (Reprint of File No. 414)
                                House Bill No. 6420
                                As Amended by House
                                Amendment Schedule "A"



                     Approved by the Legislative Commissioner
                                  May 31, 2003

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

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

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 Section 10-295 of the general statutes is repealed and the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

 3         (a) All residents of this state, regardless of age, who, because of
 4     blindness or impaired vision, require [special] specialized vision-
 5     related educational programs, goods and services, on the signed
 6     recommendation of the director of the Board of Education and Services
 7     for the Blind, shall be entitled to receive such instruction, programs,
 8     goods and services and for such length of time as is deemed expedient
 9     by said director. [The director shall annually submit to the board the
10     list of names of persons so recommended.] Upon the petition of any
11     parent or guardian of a blind [educable] child or a child with impaired
12     vision, a local board of education may provide such instruction within

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     HB6420                                                        File No. 803

13     the town or it may provide for such instruction by agreement with
14     other towns as provided in subsection (d) of section 10-76d. [The
15     expense of such instruction shall be paid by the state to an amount not
16     exceeding six thousand four hundred dollars for each of such persons
17     in any one state fiscal year. When the parents or guardians of any such
18     blind person or person with impaired vision are not able to provide
19     clothing for such person, an additional sum not to exceed one hundred
20     dollars per year may be allowed for such expenses. Where a local or
21     regional board of education reimburses parents or legal guardians of a
22     blind or visually impaired child for transportation to and from a
23     specialized residential facility serving the blind, such board shall be
24     reimbursed by the state for such validated actual cost up to a
25     maximum of three hundred dollars per pupil per school year.
26     Determination of reimbursable transportation costs and payment
27     therefor shall be the responsibility of the State Board of Education and
28     Services for the Blind.] All educational privileges prescribed in part V
29     of chapter 164, not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter,
30     shall apply to the pupils covered by this subsection. [The Board of
31     Education and Services for the Blind may provide any of the
32     educational services described in this section to a child whose vision
33     may be greater than as defined in section 10-294a upon written referral
34     by the local or regional board of education responsible for providing
35     special education and related services pursuant to section 10-76d. A
36     request from a local or regional board of education for reimbursement
37     of such expenses to the Board of Education and Services for the Blind
38     shall not be eligible for such reimbursement unless such request is
39     received by the first of June for such expenses incurred during the
40     preceding first of July through the thirty-first of December and by the
41     first of December for expenses incurred during the preceding first of
42     January through the thirtieth of June.]

43        [(b) Said board may expend funds up to eleven thousand dollars per
44     fiscal year per child for the purpose of sending children who are both
45     blind or visually impaired and deaf, or blind or visually impaired with
46     other severe physical handicaps, to specialized facilities within or

     HB6420 / File No. 803                                                   2
     HB6420                                                         File No. 803

47     outside the state furnishing proper facilities for education of such
48     children; provided blind children or children with visual impairment
49     who are mentally retarded or emotionally maladjusted who can
50     reasonably profit by special training, facilities and services may be
51     included in the provisions of this section. Such funds may be spent
52     outside the state for room, board, tuition and other items necessarily
53     relevant to the education of such children. Said board may determine if
54     such children should be sent to such out-of-state places and may]

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

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

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      HB6420                                                           File No. 803

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

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

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

111        (5) Remaining funds in said account, not expended to fund the
112     services set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, shall be
      HB6420 / File No. 803                                                      4
      HB6420                                                            File No. 803

113     used to cover on a pro rata basis, the actual cost with benefits of a
114     teacher of the visually impaired, directly hired or contracted by the
115     school districts which opt to not seek such services from the Board of
116     Education and Services for the Blind. Reimbursement shall occur at the
117     completion of the school year, using the caseload formula denoted in
118     subdivision (3) of this section, with twenty-five points allowing for the
119     maximum reimbursable amount as established by the agency annually.

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

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

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

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


      HB6420 / File No. 803                                                       5
HB6420                                     File No. 803


  This act shall take effect as follows:

  Section 1      July 1, 2003




HB6420 / File No. 803                                6
HB6420                                                                                    File No. 803

      The following fiscal impact statement and bill analysis are prepared for the benefit of members of the
      General Assembly, solely for the purpose of information, summarization, and explanation, and do not
      represent the intent of the General Assembly or either House thereof for any purpose:




  OFA Fiscal Note

  State Impact:
                    Agency Affected                                                  Impact
  Board of Education and Services for the Blind                                     See Below


  Municipal Impact:
                     Municipalities                                                  Impact
  Various Municipalities                                                            See Below


  Explanation

     The bill, which is effective July 1, 2003, provides for a new funding
  structure of vision education services for children who are blind or
  visually impaired as provided by the Board of Education and Services
  for the Blind (BESB).

     HB 6720 (the budget bill) as passed by both chambers of the General
  Assembly and vetoed by the Governor, appropriated $7,103,099 in the
  Educational Aid for Blind and Visually Handicapped Children account
  (the educational aid account). There are an estimated 1,179 blind or
  visually impaired children who are served within the system (school-
  aged and birth-to-three). It is uncertain the degree to which the agency
  would be able to fully implement the provisions of the bill given the
  July 1, 2003 effective date.

     The bill delineates the distribution of funding from the educational
  aid account and the level of Visually Impaired teaching staff provided
  by BESB. BESB would utilize the educational consultant positions
  (currently funded from the agency’s Personal Services account)
  authorized as of July 1, 2001 and supplement new staffing that would

HB6420 / File No. 803                                                                                   7
HB6420                                                           File No. 803

  be funded from the educational aid account. It is anticipated that the
  authorized level of educational consultants as referenced in the bill is
  consistent with the filled level prior to the FY 03 ERIP (early retirement
  incentive plan). There are 20 Educational Consultants and a Braille
  Coordinator (in addition to four support staff) in the Children Services
  program that is funded from the agency’s Personal Services account
  (fringe benefits are paid from the Comptroller’s Miscellaneous
  accounts). It should be noted that nine of twenty-one positions are
  eligible for early retirement.

      The bill specifies funding priorities within the educational aid
  account, the first priority including specialized books, materials,
  equipment, and adaptive technology. Funding may also be used to
  employ new certified teachers of the visually impaired in order to meet
  the request for services from school districts (distribution to be
  determined by the agency utilizing a formula based on points). The
  cost to employ a new teacher is estimated at $72,000 (this includes
  fringe benefits) that would be paid from the educational aid account.
  It is uncertain the number of new teachers that would be employed as
  a result of the bill (to be determined by BESB utilizing a formula).

     If funding is insufficient to cover total costs associated with the first
  two prioritized spending categories (specialized book etc. and the
  employing of certified teachers), BESB is authorized to collect revenue
  from the school districts that have requested such services to cover the
  insufficient funds. It is anticipated that BESB would establish a policy
  to pro-rate a revenue schedule to cover the insufficient costs.

     The bill further specifies that if there is a balance of funding in the
  educational aid account (after the newly employed BESB teachers and
  equipment and technology is provided), then a distribution based on a
  pro rata basis would reimburse the school districts for teachers and
  services not provided by BESB.

     The bill retains a cap on funding for expenses incurred for certain
  services not to exceed $6,400 for each child in a fiscal year. Although it

HB6420 / File No. 803                                                      8
HB6420                                                        File No. 803

  is uncertain to what extent the cap would impact the level of newly
  employed certified teachers funded from the educational aid account.

     It is uncertain what the impact would be to each municipality
  (school district) as a result of the bill. The bill requires BESB to
  establish the policy for implementing the provisions and the level of
  need for each child would be based on the individualized education or
  service plan and eliminates the out-of-district tuition reimbursement to
  towns, therefore the support to each district may vary from the current
  level.

     House “A” eliminated the underlying bill and replaced it with a
  different system for providing and funding vision education services
  for children who are blind or visually impaired, which is explained
  above.




HB6420 / File No. 803                                                   9
HB6420                                                         File No. 803




  OLR Bill Analysis
  HB 6420 (as amended by House “A”)*

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

  SUMMARY:
  This bill establishes a priority system for the Board of Education and
  Services to the Blind (BESB) to use when it provides and pays for
  educational services to children who are blind or visually impaired.

  The bill requires BESB to use funds from its Educational Aid for Blind
  and Visually Handicapped Children account (the educational aid
  account) to first pay for goods and services, such as specialized books.
  The second priority for these funds is teaching services that school
  districts request directly from BESB, and the third is reimbursement to
  towns that purchase these services on their own. A formula is used to
  determine the number of BESB teachers the districts receive. The bill
  authorizes BESB to charge districts for any goods or services if funds
  appropriated to the account are insufficient.

  The bill requires any funds that are left in the account after payments
  for goods and services and teachers to go to the school districts. And it
  requires BESB to make its existing resources, such as its library,
  available to the districts and permits it to provide the districts with
  professional development and training.

  The bill allows BESB to adopt regulations to carry out these provisions.

  By law, blind and visually impaired residents, regardless of age, are
  entitled to educational services from BESB when the BESB director
  recommends them. And BESB must pay up to $6,400 per blind or
  visually impaired child for these services. The bill eliminates a
  requirement that the director annually submit a list of these residents
  to the BESB board. It also eliminates a requirement that blind children

HB6420 / File No. 803                                                   10
HB6420                                                          File No. 803

  be “educable” as a condition of their parent’s or guardian’s petitioning
  their local school boards for services.

  The bill also eliminates BESB’s authority to spend up to $11,000 per
  fiscal year to send children who are both blind or visually impaired
  and deaf, or blind or visually impaired with other severe physical
  handicaps to in- or out-of-state facilities. It eliminates a $100 allowance
  for clothing and $300 for transportation of children to and from
  specialized residential facilities serving the blind, which is in addition
  to the established statutory cap for educational services. It eliminates
  BESB’s authority to provide educational services to children whose
  vision is better than the statutory definitions of blindness (see
  BACKGROUND).

  *House Amendment “A” eliminates the underlying bill which, among
  other things, permitted BESB to contract with school districts to
  provide educational services on a fee-for-service basis, and replaces it
  with the prioritization for spending the vision account funds.

  EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2003

  EDUCATIONAL AID FOR BLIND AND VISUALLY HANDICAPPED
  CHILDREN ACCOUNT

  Non-Teaching Goods and Services as First Priority for Payment

  Under the bill, any funds appropriated to the educational aid account
  must be used first for the following goods and services, without regard
  to the spending limit established in law (i.e., the $6,400):

  1. specialized books;

  2. materials;

  3. equipment;

  4. supplies;

  5. adaptive technology services and devices;

  6. specialist examinations and aids;


HB6420 / File No. 803                                                    11
HB6420                                                          File No. 803

  7. preschool programs; and

  8. vision-related independent living services, excluding primary
     education placement.

  Payments for Teaching Services

  In addition to the non-teaching services, the bill requires BESB to
  provide certified teachers of the visually impaired whenever school
  districts request them in writing, based on the levels established in the
  child’s individualized education or service plan. It authorizes BESB to
  employ adequate numbers of certified teachers of the visually
  impaired to meet these requests, based on available appropriations. (It
  is not clear whether use of these teachers will apply towards the $6,400
  cap.)

  In responding to these requests, BESB must use a formula to determine
  the number of teachers needed, crediting six points for each Braille
  learning child and one point for all other children. BESB must make
  available one full-time certified teacher of the blind or visually
  impaired for every 25 points a district reports. The bill requires BESB
  to exercise due diligence to employ the needed number of teachers but
  holds the agency harmless if it does not have adequate resources. It
  requires BESB to (1) no later than October 1 of each year determine the
  number of teachers needed based on the formula and (2) estimate the
  funding that would be necessary to pay the teachers’ salaries, benefits,
  and related expenses.

  The bill requires BESB to use education consultants positions paid
  through General Fund appropriations (through the Personal Service
  account) that were authorized as of July 1, 2001 to supplement any
  new staffing, which will be made available through the educational aid
  account and be governed by formal written policies the agency
  establishes. (This latter account is presently an Other Current Expenses
  account in BESB’s budget.)

  The bill authorizes BESB, whenever appropriated funds to cover the
  teachers and the first-priority educational goods and services are
  insufficient, to collect revenue from all school districts that have
  requested services, on a per-student pro rata basis, in amounts
  necessary to cover the projected deficit. But if there are leftover funds,
  they must be used to cover, on a pro rata basis, the actual cost,
HB6420 / File No. 803                                                    12
HB6420                                                          File No. 803

  including benefits, of a teacher of the visually impaired, either directly
  hired or contracted by those school districts that elect not to seek
  educational services from BESB. These funds, which are reimbursed
  after they are spent, are paid at the completion of the school year using
  the same formula established for the BESB teachers. Districts with 25
  points are eligible for the maximum reimbursable amount, as
  established by BESB.

  It is not clear whether districts that opt not to use BESB teachers but
  spend up to the statutory limit (i.e., $6,400) on non-BESB teachers
  would be reimbursed based on this formula, thus potentially giving
  them less than they get under the current system which reimburses up
  to the $6,400 cap.

  Currently, BESB offers a number of teachers of the visually impaired to
  about 110 school districts and the cost of these teachers does not count
  towards the per child cap. Other school districts that need special
  instruction must make their own arrangements, for which they pay up
  front, BESB reimburses them, and deducts this reimbursement from
  the cap.

  Other Uses of Account Funds

  If funds still remain after the above distribution, the bill requires that
  they go to the school districts on a pro rata formula basis with a two-
  to-one credit ratio for Braille learning students to non-Braille learning
  students in the districts based on the annual “child count data” that
  BESB receives from the districts. (Presumably, the child count refers to
  the number of children for whom services have been requested.)

  Availability of Other BESB Resources

  BESB must also make its resources, including the Braille and large
  print library, available to all public and nonpublic school teachers. It
  may also provide vision-related professional development and
  training to the districts.

  BACKGROUND

  Blindness and Visual-Impairment Defined

  State law considers someone to be blind if (1) his central visual acuity
HB6420 / File No. 803                                                    13
HB6420                                                          File No. 803

  is not greater than 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses or (2)
  his visual acuity is better than 20/200 but he also has a limitation in the
  fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field
  subtends an angle greater than 20 degrees.

  Impaired vision means that central visual acuity is no greater than
  20/70 in the better eye with corrective lenses.

  BESB and Educational Support

  BESB was created in 1893 to assist children who were unable to obtain
  education in the regular public schools due to blindness or “defective
  sight.” Initially, its main responsibility was to identify children
  needing educational services and to provide state funds for the costs of
  board and tuition at schools for blind and partially blind children.
  Today, most of BESB’s role in educational services for children has
  been superseded by the state’s special education system. But state law
  still authorizes BESB to provide assistance to school districts for
  specialized instructional services and materials for blind and visually
  impaired children.

  Legislative History

  The House referred the original bill to the Education and Finance,
  Revenue and Bonding committees on April 22 and May 6, respectively.
  Both committees reported it favorably, without change.

  COMMITTEE ACTION

  Program Review and Investigations Committee

     Joint Favorable Change of Reference
      Yea 11       Nay 0

  Human Services Committee

     Joint Favorable Report
     Yea 18       Nay 0

  Education Committee

     Joint Favorable Report
HB6420 / File No. 803                                                    14
HB6420                                     File No. 803

     Yea     23     Nay   1

  Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

     Joint Favorable Report
      Yea 41       Nay 2




HB6420 / File No. 803                               15

								
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