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A03922
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1800
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY TURZAI, ROTHMAN, REESE, LEWIS, RYAN, PUSKARIC,
HELM, GLEIM, OWLETT, SCHMITT, O'NEAL, RAPP, PICKETT, KAIL,
JONES, M. K. KELLER, KAUFFMAN, MOUL, KEEFER, BERNSTINE,
HICKERNELL, MILLARD, ROAE, GREINER, TOPPER, FEE, ZIMMERMAN,
JAMES, GABLER, STAATS, KLUNK, GROVE, GILLEN, NELSON AND
MENTZER, SEPTEMBER 25, 2019
AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, NOVEMBER 18, 2019
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in school district financial
recovery, providing for duties of receivers in certain
districts.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding a
section to read:
Section 677-A. Duties of receivers in certain districts.
(a) General rule.--If a receiver is appointed in a school
district of the second class that is located , IN WHOLE, in a
city of the third class within a county of the third class, the
receiver shall create a program of tuition grants as provided
under this section.
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(b) Tuition grants.--A receiver shall establish a program of
tuition grants to provide for the education of students who
reside within the boundaries of the school district and attend
or will attend a nonpublic school or a participating public
school in a school district. The receiver may not limit the
number of tuition grants available. The receiver shall use funds
received from the Commonwealth for educational purposes to
establish a program of tuition grants to provide for the
education of students who reside within the boundaries of the
school district. The following apply:
(1) The grant amount shall be equal to or greater than
50% of the amount received by the school district under
section SECTIONS 2502.53 , 2509.5 AND 2599.6 for the prior
school year divided by the school district's average daily
membership.
(2) A student who receives a tuition grant under this
section shall be included in the school district's average
daily membership. A student may not be included in the
average daily membership of a participating school district.
(3) A nonpublic school that enrolls a student who
receives a tuition grant under this section shall comply with
all regulations under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to academic
standards and assessment).
(c) Commonwealth match for tuition grants.--The following
apply:
(1) The Commonwealth shall provide a matching tuition
grant equal to 50% of the amount received by the school
district under section SECTIONS 2502.53 , 2509.5 AND 2599.6
for the prior school year DIVIDED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S
AVERAGE DAILY MEMBERSHIP for each student who receives a
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tuition grant under subsection (b).
(2) The Commonwealth matching grant and tuition grant
shall be reduced on a pro rata basis if the school district
grant plus the Commonwealth matching grant exceed the amount
of tuition and fees charged by the nonpublic school or the
participating public school. THE COMBINED AMOUNT OF THE
COMMONWEALTH MATCHING GRANT, TUITION GRANT AND ANY ADDITIONAL
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE MAY NOT EXCEED THE TUITION AND FEES
CHARGED BY THE NONPUBLIC SCHOOL OR THE PARTICIPATING PUBLIC
SCHOOL.
(d) Guidelines and process.--
(1) The receiver shall develop and establish guidelines
for the program of tuition grants, including:
(i) An application form and approval process.
(ii) Standards for verification of the accuracy of
application information.
(iii) Standards for confirmation of attendance by a
student who receives a tuition grant.
(iv) Requirements for grant checks, including
requiring restrictive endorsement of grant checks by
parents to the school chosen by the parents.
(v) A process for pro rata refunds of grants for
students who withdraw during the school year.
(vi) Criteria for when grants must be refunded to
the school district.
(vii) A process for participating public schools to
accept students in the program of tuition grants.
(viii) Reasonable deadline dates for submission of
grant applications.
(2) The receiver shall announce the award of grants no
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later than August 1, 2020, and each August 1 thereafter for
the school year in which the grants will be utilized. Upon
receipt of written confirmation of enrollment from the
student's school of choice, grants shall be paid to the
parents of the student by a check that may only be endorsed
to the selected school. THE RECEIVER SHALL ESTABLISH A
PAYMENT SCHEDULE OF ONE OR MORE PAYMENTS TO THE PARENTS. THE
NONPUBLIC SCHOOL OR PARTICIPATING PUBLIC SCHOOL SHALL ACCEPT
PAYMENTS FROM THE PARENTS BASED ON THIS PAYMENT SCHEDULE.
(3) If a student is not enrolled in the school prior to
the completion of the school term, the school shall send
written notice to the school district.
(4) Grants awarded to students under this section shall
not:
(i) Be considered taxable income for purposes of a
local taxing ordinance or for purposes of Article III of
the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax
Reform Code of 1971.
(ii) Constitute financial assistance or
appropriations to any nonpublic school attended by the
student.
(e) Construction.--Nothing under this section shall be
construed to empower the Commonwealth, the receiver or a school
district or any of the Commonwealth's, receiver's or school
district's agencies or officers to do any of the following:
(1) Prescribe the course content or admissions criteria
for a religiously affiliated school.
(2) Compel a nonpublic school or participating public
school to accept or enroll a student.
(3) Impose additional requirements on a nonpublic school
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that are not otherwise authorized by statute.
(4) Require a nonpublic school to accept or retain a
student if the nonpublic school does not offer programs or is
not structured or equipped with the necessary facilities to
meet the special needs of the student or does not offer a
particular program requested.
(f) Participating public schools.--The following apply:
(1) A school district may designate a school or schools
that will accept students who receive a tuition grant.
(2) The receiver shall include a process for a
participating public school to accept students in the program
of tuition grants, including:
(i) The timeline for a school district to elect to
participate in accepting students who receive a tuition
grant.
(ii) Identifying each public school in the school
district that will participate.
(iii) Identifying the number of students the school
district will accept by grade level.
(3) A participating school district may agree to accept
less than the tuition calculated under section 2561.
(g) Financial recovery plan.--After the receiver develops a
program of tuition grants under this section, the receiver shall
modify the financial recovery plan as necessary to accommodate
the program by filing a petition in accordance with section 672-
A(b)(5). Within seven days of the filing of the petition, the
court of common pleas shall issue a decision approving the
petition if the program of tuition grants complies with the
requirements of this section. The judge shall not deny the
petition for any other reason except that it does not comply
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with the requirements of this section. If the judge denies the
petition, the receiver must revise and resubmit the financial
recovery plan within 30 days.
(h) Transportation.--A student receiving a tuition grant
under this section shall be provided transportation to the
nonpublic school or participating public school located within
the district boundaries or outside the district boundaries at a
distance not exceeding ten miles by the nearest public highway
as provided under section 1361.
(I) TRANSITION.--THE PROGRAM OF TUITION GRANTS UNDER THIS
SECTION SHALL CONTINUE IF A SCHOOL DISTRICT EXITS A
RECEIVERSHIP. THE DUTIES OF THE RECEIVER UNDER THIS SECTION
SHALL TRANSITION TO THE LOCAL BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS.
(J) NOTIFICATION.--NO LATER THAN MARCH 1, 2020, AND EACH
MARCH 1 THEREAFTER, THE RECEIVER SHALL SEND WRITTEN NOTIFICATION
TO THE PARENTS OF EACH STUDENT WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE A
TUITION GRANT UNDER SUBSECTION (B) AND POST ON THE DISTRICT'S
PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE INTERNET WEBSITE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING
INFORMATION:
(1) A DESCRIPTION OF THE PROGRAM OF TUITION GRANTS.
(2) INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLYING FOR A TUITION GRANT.
(3) NOTICE THAT A PARENT MUST DIRECTLY CONTACT A
NONPUBLIC SCHOOL OR PARTICIPATING PUBLIC SCHOOL IF THE PARENT
SEEKS TO ENROLL THE STUDENT IN A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL OR
PARTICIPATING PUBLIC SCHOOL.
Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
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