CHAPTER 482

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 758

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PUBLIC EDUCATION.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend § 1703(a), Title 14, Delaware Code by replacing the number "19" as it appears each time and inserting the number "17.4" in lieu thereof.

Section 2. Amend § 1703(c), Title 14, Delaware Code by deleting the words "according to this schedule: Beginning July 1, 1980 and thereafter. 40 pupils" and substituting in lieu thereof the words "as 34.8 pupils."

Section 3. Amend § 1702, Title 14, Delaware Code to insert a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

"Appropriations pursuant to Division I shall be used to employ personnel paid in accordance with § 1305 of /his title; provided, however, that school districts are authorized to utilize up to five percent of such units to employ two instructional aides, paid in accordance with § 1324 of this title, for each unit in lieu of one person employed under § 1305 of this title. School districts shall not use such funding to employ administrators in addition to those funded by the State pursuant to chapter 13 of this title."

Section 4. Amend Chapter 17, Title 14, Delaware Code to add a new § 1705A. thereto to read as follows:

"§ 1705A. Maximum Student-Instructor Ratio Requirements.

(a) The ratio of students to instructors in any class in kindergarten or grades 1-3 in a Delaware public school shall not exceed 22 students as of the last school day of October. In calculating such ratio, a classroom instructional aide shall count as equal to half a teacher. This subsection shall only apply to a class within which students arc instructed in the core academic subjects of English/Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

(b) The Department of Education shall provide technical assistance to any school district seeking assistance in allocating its Division I, Division III, federal Title I, Comprehensive Discipline Program, and local operating funding in such a manner as to accomplish class sizes equal to or lower than those required by this section.

(c) A local school board may waive subsection (a) of this section after voting to waive such subsection at a public meeting noticed for that purpose. Any local school board vote on such a waiver shall occur on or before the 1st of December of each year. Notice for such a meeting shall be placed in the local newspaper for two consecutive weeks before the meeting and shall be posted on the door of any school affected for the same time period, and a copy shall be sent to the principal, teacher association building representative, and Parent Teacher Organization/Parent Teacher Association parent leader of any affected school. The notice shall include the procedures for such persons to provide oral or written comments on the proposed waiver to the school board. Notice of any approved waiver shall be sent to the min. e persons.

(d) The State Auditor shall, in cooperation with the Department of Education, monitor compliance with this section in the audits of the boards of education of the schools district conducted pursuant to § 1504 of this title."

Section 5. The Department of Education shall prepare and submit to the State Board of Education revised regulations to improve the definitions and procedures used to determine whether students are classified as learning disabled, educably mentally handicapped, or seriously emotionally disturbed for purposes of the class size unit funding formula in Chapter 17 of Title 14. In preparing such regulations, the Department shall seek the assistance of the State Public Health Director, the State's medical community, and local school district personnel expert in these issues to assure that the revised regulations are based on sound medical and educational principles. The Department of Education shall report to the General Assembly on or before January 15, 1999 on its progress in this regard.

Section 6. The General Assembly and the Executive Branch of Government are committed to continuing to undertake measures to improve class size in Delaware's public schools, particularly in the early grade years.

To that end, the Governor shall, to the extent that state revenues make such appropriations fiscally practicable, submit recommended operating and capital budgets to the General Assembly in January 1999 and January 2000 which advance the objective of reducing the unit size at kindergarten through grade three so that one teacher unit is provided for every fifteen regular students. Moreover, the Governor's recommended capital budgets shall include recommendations to assist the State and local school districts in meeting any need for additional classroom space associated with the provision of additional teachers to reduce class size. The Governor's recommended budgets shall also consider and address the possible need for unit size reductions at grades four through twelve. Finally, the Governor's recommended budgets shall include provisions to ensure that new resources to reduce class size are used for such purpose.

In preparing these recommendations, the Governor, the Budget Office, and the Department of Education shall consult with education stakeholder organizations, including the Delaware Chief School Officers' Association, the Delaware State Education Association, the Delaware State Administrator's Association, the Delaware State School Boards' Association, the Delaware Congress of Parents and Teachers, and the Business/Public Education Council.

Approved July 20, 1998