SENATE BILL NO. 456
AS AMENDED BY
SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND DELAWARE CODE, TITLE 14, TO PROVIDE FOR THE REORGANIZATION OF CERTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICTS FOR THE GOVERNANCE THEREOF, INCLUDING THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS BY SUCH DISTRICTS AND TO PROVIDE FOR AN ELECTION TO DETERMINE THE EXCLUSIVE BARGAINING REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OF THE NEW REORGANIZED DISTRICTS.
WHEREAS, acting beyond the control of the General Assembly and contrary to arguments advanced by the State Board of Education, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in the case of Evans v. Buchanan, by its January 9, 1978, Order, causes one school district comprising all of New Castle County except for Appoquinimink School District and a portion of Smyrna School District to be created and to replace eleven presently existing school districts which exist under State law; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly finds that the creation of an almost County-wide school district in place of eleven districts in New Castle County would be contrary to and in conflict with established and traditional state policy favoring small school districts encouraging local control, and would be against the best interests of, and detrimental to, the people of the State of Delaware and the educational structure of the State of Delaware and would not provide the highest quality education for all the students attending public schools in those districts; and
WHEREAS, the District Court in Evans v. Buchanan has recognized that "local community control is, of course, an important feature of American education," 416 F. Supp. 328, 352, and that the "operation of public schools is traditionally a matter of local concern, and properly so," 416 F. Supp. at 365; and
WHEREAS, the District Court in its January 9, 1978, Opinion further acknowledged that many matters involving the governance of school districts are more properly a part of the political process of the State; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly believes that pupil reassignment for "desegregation" should not be required by Court order but recognizes that the District Court has issued an order requiring pupil reassignment and mandatory busing regardless of whether the General Assembly acts, and that if the General Assembly provides for reorganization of present school districts for governance purposes, once pupils are reassigned pursuant to a court order they will be able to attend school in smaller districts, thereby hopefully ameliorating some of the
massive problems anticipated from having both (I) an almost County-wide school district and (2) mandatory pupil reassignment and mandatory busing imposed upon the State against its desires at the same time; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly wholeheartedly supports continued appeals and the prosecution of the pending appeals by the State Board of Education in the case of Evans v. Buchanan and is willing to enact this legislation dealing with the reorganization of school districts only because it has been advised by counsel that such legislative action will not and should not prejudice the appeals; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly finds that an educational structure established in accordance with State legislation is preferable to one almost County-wide school district; and
WHEREAS, any legislation requiring reorganization of school districts is adopted solely because it may be necessary in the absence of a stay or reversal of the January 9, 1978, Order of the United States District Court in the case of Evans v. Buchanan in order to preserve some local control over the education of Delaware children in accordance with established and recognized Delaware tradition; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly is advised that in the case of Evans v. Buchanan, the Court's January 9, 1978, Order requires the mandatory reassignment and busing of pupils for alleged racial balance, and it is the intent of the General Assembly that nothing in this Legislation will be construed to confer any power or authority upon any State Agencies or upon any local School District Agencies to mandatorily assign or reassign or bus pupils between any districts; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly does not intend by this Legislation to impede or interfere with the desegregation process of the Federal Courts, but the General Assembly does desire to reduce the intrusion of the federal judiciary into the educational system of the State as much as possible, consistent, however, with no imperiling or making ineffective such desegregation process; and
WHEREAS, the provisions of this Bill will therefore set a method of establishing multiple school districts in the desegregation area; and
WHEREAS, although the General Assembly continues to believe that no unconstitutional segregation exists in the area ordered to be consolidated by the Court in Evans v. Buchanan and that no reassignment of students or changes in governance structure should be required by Court Order, the General Assembly recognizes that the Court Order has the force of law and that the new district will be a reality for the next succeeding public school years until and unless the Court Order is stayed or reversed, and thus this Legislation is necessary to avoid the possibility of one large single district with approximately 70,000 pupils; and
WHEREAS, it is the intent of the General Assembly that any legislation adopted by it requiring reorganization of school districts be without prejudice to the State's appellate positions in the case of Evans v. Buchanan, and it is the declaration of the General Assembly that this Legislation is enacted without prejudice to the appellate and legal positions and contentions of the defendants in the case of Evans v. Buchanan;
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 10, Title 14, of the Delaware Code by striking Subchapter 1 of said Chapter in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof a new Subchapter 1 to read as follows:
The purpose of this subchapter is to continue the statewide process of reorganization of school districts begun under the School District Reorganization Act of 1968; to preserve the historic concept of semi-autonomous locally controlled school districts thorughout the State; to provide a procedure for the effective and orderly reorganization of certain existing school districts in Delaware; and to provide a framework of a governance system for such reorganized districts.
Unless otherwise defined in this Chapter:
(1) 'School district' means a clearly defined geographic subdivision of the State organized for the purpose of administering public education in that area provided that 'school district' shall not, for the purpose of this subchapter, include any district specifically created to administer a system of vocational and/or technical education; (2) 'Reorganized school district' or 'newly reorganized school district' means a school district which is constituted and established
in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter including, where applicable, a school district resulting from a consolidation or division in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, provided that 'reorganized school district' or newly reorganized school district for the purposes of this subchaptershallnot include any district specifically created to administer a system of vocational and/or technical education; (3) 'School Board' means the board of education of a reorganized school district consisting of members duly elected or appointed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter; (4) 'Component former school district' or 'component school district' means a school district, as constituted on July 1, 1977, which comprises in whole or in part a reorganized school district on
or after July 1, 1978; (5) 'Component former school board' means the board of education of any component former school district or component school district; (6) 'Commission' means the Joint Legislative/Executive Commission on School Reorganization created by Chapter 11 of this title.
The State Board of Education is hereby authorized and and empowered to reorganize school districts pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. Any such reorganization shall meet at least the following criteria:
(1) Provide a complete instructional program for grades 1 through 12 except as may be provided for vocational and/or technical education;
(2) Be composed of whole component school districts or parts of component school districts or any combination of whole and parts of component school districts without regard to any specific provisions of this chapter which would otherwise require the preservation of the boundaries of any component school district.
§1004. Plan of reorganization of certain school districts; review and approval by Commission adoption and implementation of plan
(a) The State Board of Education on or before February 10, 1978, shall meet and adopt a plan of reorganization of those school districts of the State subject to an order of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware dated January 9, 1978, and shall transmit such plan to the Commission.
(b) The Commission shall promptly meet to consider the plan submitted to it. The Commission shall either approve or disapprove the plan submitted and shall report its actions to the State Board of Education no later than February 15,
1978; provided that any plan shall be approved only upon the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of those members who have been appointed and commissioned pursuant to §1102 of this title. If the Commission disapproves the plant it shall state the basis of its disapproval in writing.
(c) If the Commission disapproves the plan, the State Board may, not later than February 23, 1978, forward to the Commission either a response to the Commission's objections or an amended plan dealing with such objections. The Commission, not later than February 28, 1978, shall either approve or disapprove the original plan or the amended plan. Such approval or disapproval shall be final.
(d) If the Commission approves the plan, the State Board, within seven days of such approval, shall initiate the implementation thereof in accordance with §1008 of this title. If the Commission finally disapproves the plan or amended plan submitted to it, no plan or reorganization shall be implemented, and, insofar as this subchapter is concerned, the school districts shall continue as heretofore constituted.
§1005. Establishment or reorganized school districts
On July 1, 1978, all proposed school districts contained in the plan approved by the Commission in accordance with
this subchapter, shall be constituted and established as reorganized school districts and shall be organized and administered according to the provisions of this title in the same manner as they would have been if constituted and established pursuant to §1027 of this title, except that the maximum tax rates for any such districts shall be determined as provided in Chapter 19 of Title 14.
§1006. Deployment of school employees in each newly reorganized school district
The State Board of Education shall devise a fair and equitable procedure for the deployment of school employees among and within the districts reorganized pursuant to this subchapter which will be consistent with the criteria for reorganization set out in §1003 of this title.
§1007. Employee rights to fair dismissal
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to alter or affect in any way either the provisions of chapter 14 of this title or the right to terminate the employment of any
school employee, to whom the provisions of chapter 14 of this title do not apply, for cause or for any other reasons not inconsistent with the purpose of this section, except that, for purposes of §1403 of this title, a teacher as defined in §1401 of this title, shall be deemed employed by the school board of the reorganized school district for that period of time such teacher was deemed to be continuously employed under the rules and regulations in
effect as of January 1, 1978, in the component former school district employing the teacher as of that date.
§1008. Creation of interim Boards as new boards; authority, membership, vacancies, funding
(a) Within seven days of the approval of a reorganization plan by the Commission, the State Board shall appoint an Interim Board of Education of five members for each reorganized district, with at least one being a representative of each of the component school districts and parts of component school districts. Members of the Interim Board shall be selected from the incumbent members of the component former school boards. If only part of a component school district becomes part of a reorganized school district pursuant to this title, the member of the Interim Board for such reorganized school district appointed from such component school district shall be a resident of that part of the component school district which becomes part of the reorganized school district; if there is no incumbent of the component former school board who is a resident of that part of the component school district which becomes part of the reorganized school district, then the State Board of Education shall select a member from the citizens of that part of the component school district who is eligible for membership on a school district Board of Education according to the provisions of Subchapter III of this Chapter. In any instance where there are fewer than five component school districts or parts of component school districts, the number of additional members necessary to maintain a membership of five shall be appointed by the State Board of Education from the entire area of the proposed reorganized school district at large. Each interim Board of Education shall be called into session by the President of the State Board of Education on a date not later than March 1, 1978, shall be sworn into office and shall elect its officers.
(b) Each Interim Board shall have all of the authority of a board of education as established in this title as the authority is applied to planning and preparing for the establishment of a reorganized school district to be established effective July 1, 1978, in accordance with the provisions of 41005 of this title. The Authority herein granted to each Interim Board includes at least but is not limited to the authority to establish a tax rate in accordance with Chapter 19 of this title, negotiate contracts, employ personnel for assignment as of July 1, 1978, select a name for the reorganized school district, and employ personnel for immediate assignment to execute the policies of Interim Board.
(c) Members of each Interim Board shall become the members of the Board of Education of the newly reorganized school district on July 1, 1978, and shall serve for terms of one year or two years. The length of the term to be served after July 1, 1978, of each member shall be determined by lot at the time of appointment by the State Board of Education. Two members of each board shall serve for one year and three members shall serve for two years, after which time elections shall be held according to 41009 and other applicable sections of this title.
(d) A vacancy on each Interim Board of Education prior to July 1, 1978, shall be filled as prescribed in §1054 of this title.
(e) Each Interim Board of Education shall devise a budget to support its operation during the period from date of oath of office through June 30, 1978, and present that budget to the State Board of Education for approval. The State Board of Education shall approve a final budget for each Interim Board within fourteen days from the date of its first session. The budget so approved shall be funded by the component school districts or parts of component school districts comprising the newly reorganized school district. Each component school district shall contribute an amount assessed in proportion to the ratio which the assessed value of taxable real estate in that component school district or part of a component school district (such real estate not including taxable real estate which is exempt from County taxation as determined and fixed for County tax purposes) bears to the total assessed value of taxable real estate, similarly determined, in all districts being consolidated into such newly reorganized district pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter. If any component district fails to contribute the amount assessed against it within ten days of receipt of the Statement of Assessment delivered by certified mail, the Interim Board for the newly reorganized school district which includes that existing district, or part of existing school district shall report the delinquencies to the State Board of Education, which shall in turn verify the delinquencies and certify the delinquencies to the Secretary of Finance. Upon certification of the Secretary of Finance,
the State Treasurer shall pay the assessed amount to the Interim Board from such funds as are available in the State and local district accounts for the delinquent component district.
§1009. Board of Education of newly reorganized school districts (s)
Notwithstanding other provisions of this title, the school board of a district newly reorganized under the provisions of this subchapter shall have members appointed according to the provisions of §1008 (c) of this title, and elected according to the provisions in the Table of Terms in sub-section (a) immediately following, so that
beginning with the elections in May, 1981, one member shall be elected each year for a term of five years.
(a) Table of Terms
Term Appointed Term
Beginning (by lot) By Election Term of By Election Term of
July 1, 1978 2 years May, 1980 1 year May, 1981 5 years
July 1, 1978 2 years May, 1980 2 years May, 1982 5 years
July 1, 1978 1 year May, 1979 4 years May, 1983 5 years
July 1, 1978 1 year May, 1979 5 years May, 1984 5 years
July 1, 1978 2 years May, 1980 5 years May, 1985 5 years
In the election of 1979, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes in any school district shall be elected for a term of five years and the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes shall be elected for a term of four years.
In the election of 1980, when three members shall be elected, the candidates receiving the highest, second highest and third highest number of votes in each school district shall be elected to terms of five years, two years, and one year, respectively .
(a) Beginning with the election of 1979, the persons electtd to the Board of Education of a newly reorganized school district shall be elected from the same former component school district or part of a school district that was represented by his or her predecessor according to the appointments made pursuant to §1008 of this title, except that in any instance where there are fewer than five such component districts or parts of component districts, or in any instance where no person qualifies for election to the Board from a component district or part of a component district, the number of additional members necessary to maintain a membership of five shall be nominated from the entire area of the newly reorganized school district at large;
(c) All elections regardless of the area from which a candidate is nominated shall be at large. The Boards of Education of the existing component school districts shall conduct elections pursuant to the provisions of this title.
§1010. Property, indebtedness and obligation of component former school districts
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, all real and personal property of a component school district or districts composing any reorganized school district constituted and established pursuant to this subchapter of this title shall become the property of and vested in such reorganized school district; and all indebtedness and obligations of a component former school district shall become the indebtedness and obligations of such reorganized school district. All rights of creditors against any component former school district or districts shall be preserved against the reorganized school district. All indebtedness and obligations owed to a component former school district, and all indebtedness, obligations and taxes owing to or for the account or accounts of the component former school district or districts, uncollected in the component former school district or districts, and all moneys deposited to or for the account or accounts of component former school districts, shall be paid to or for, as the case may be, the account or accounts of the reorganized school district.
(b) All obligations of any component former school district evidenced by bonds, serial or otherwise, if any, shall become the common obligation of all of the residents of the reorganized school district and the principal and interest on the outstanding bonds shall be paid according to the original terms for principal and interest by means of a common tax levied uniformly throughout the reorganized school district.
• (c) All bond issues or portions thereof, approved by the voters of a component former school district or districts prior to July 1, 1978, and remaining unissued on July 1, 1978, may be issued by the reorganized school district and such bonds shall become the common obligation of all of the residents of the reorganized school district and the principal and interest on such bonds shall be paid by means of a common tax levied uniformly throughout the reorganized school district.
(d) Wherever a component former school district is made part of two or more reorganized school districts the property, indebtedness and obligations, and rights of such component former school district shall become the property, indebtedness and obligations of the reorganized school districts in a proportion to be determined by the State Board of Education.
§1011. Property held by State Board of Education at time of reorganization
After July 1, 1978, but not later than December 31, 1978, the State Board of Education shall transfer and convey all property that, as determined by the State Board of Education, naturally belongs to any reorganized school district, to such reorganized school district and shall make and execute such deed or deeds of conveyance as are necessary to pass to the reorganized school district the legal title to all such property.
41012. Federal funds
(a) The State Board of Education, the school boards of each reorganized district, and any other department, agency or board of this State or any political subdivision having appropriate responsibility shall apply for, receive and maintain and pay out such federal funds as are now or hereafter available for the operation of any district reorganized pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter.
(b) Each reorganized school district shall, to the maximum extent possible, utilize any federal funds received for its use and/or benefit to defray the costs of salaries, benefits or operations attributable to the hiring of personnel or the implementation of programs relating to counseling and guidance, curriculum, reading and communication skills, in-service training, human relations and student discipline heretofore or hereafter mandated in any such reorganized school district by order of, or instituted in accordance with an order of, any court of competent jurisdiction. All funds available for expenditure for the purposes enumerated in this Section shall in the first instance be utilized to defray such expenses or the portions thereof as are allocable or chargeable to the State of Delaware.
(c) Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed
to reduce the dollar level of support from the State
of Delaware for any fiscal year starting with the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1978 below the dollar level of State support for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1978
or the fiscal year ending June 30, 1977, whichever is higher, for any school district or districts in the State of Delaware, including without limitation the eleven component districts involved in Evans v. Buchanan."
Section 2. Amend Title 14 of the Delaware Code, by adding thereto a new Chapter II to read as follows:
"CHAPTERII. JOINT LEGISLATIVE/EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON SCHOOL
The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the establishment of a temporary Commission appointed by and serving jointly the Legislative and Executive Branches of Delaware State Government.
It shall be the purpose of this Commission to review and approve or disapprove the plan or plans of reorganization submitted to it by the State Board of Education pursuant to Subchapter 1 of Chapter 10 of this title.
§1102. Appointment and Organization
The Commission herein authorized shall be composed and organized in the following manner: (1) the number of members of the Commission shall be nine, each of whom is a citizen
of the State of Delaware; (2) two members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, two by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, four by the Governor, one by the Attorney General, and all members so appointed shall be commissioned by the Governor; (3) the Chairperson shall be chosen by the membership of the Commission from among its membership.
The Commission herein authorized shall meet at the call of its chairperson on such occasions and at such places designated by the Chairperson as will enable it to carry out the purposes of the Commission.
§1104. Term of the Commission
The Commission shall be appointed as prescribed herein, and organized at a date, time and place fixed by the Governor, not later than ten days after signature of the authorizing legislation by the Governor. The Commission shall continue in existence until June 30, 1978."
Section 3. Amend Chapter 40, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section 4004A, which section shall read ' as follows:
"§4004A. Certification of exclusive bargaining representation in newly reorganized school districts
In connection with the school district reorganization to take place pursuant to the School District Reorganization Act of 1978, the following provisions shall apply:
(1) The Interim Board of Education of each school district, reorganized pursuant to the Act shall within seven days of assuming office, schedule an election to determine the exclusive negotiating representative of the public school employees of the newly reorganized district, such election to be held not later than sixty days after the Interim Board assumes office.
(2) The organizations to be listed on the ballots in each newly reorganized district shall be the Delaware Federation of Teachers and the Delaware State Education Association.
(3) The public school employees entitled to vote in each newly reorganized district shall be the employees deployed or to be deployed to that district by the State Board of Education pursuant to §1006 of this title."
Section 4. This Act shall be construed so as not to impair the rights of any bondholder, and all bonds outstanding shall remain in full force and effect according to the terms thereof.
Section 5. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the validity of any reorganization plan implemented in any school district in the State pursuant to the Educational Advancement Act of 1968, or as abrogating any rights of any employees thereof arising under such Act prior to the effective date of this Act.
Section 6. Nothing in this Act or in this Chapter shall be construed to confer any power or authority to assign or reassign pupils between any districts.
Section 7. Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed
as repealing any section of Delaware law except as specifically provided in this Act.
Section 8. If any provisions of this Act of the application of this Act or any of its provisions to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the other provisions of this Act, or the application of this Act or its provisions to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected thereby.
Section 9. In the event any order of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware requiring or necessitating dissolution of the school districts subject to such order is reversed
on appeal so that the eleven districts involved in Evans v. Buchanan are legally authorized to regain their separate identities and status, any reorganization plan adopted or implemented pursuant to this Act shall be null and void; provided, however, that if the reversal of such order occurs during the school year as defined in §1023 of Chapter 10 of Title 14, any reorganization shall remain in effect until the end of such school year.
Section 10. This Act shall be known as the School District Reorganization Act of 1978.
Approved February 9, 1978.