2006 Regular Session
By: Representative Brown
AN ACT RELATING TO THE ADMINISTRATION AND GOVERNANCE OF LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO CREATE A NEW SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 37-7-301.1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO GRANT HOME RULE TO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-17-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM COMPULSORY STANDARDS OF ACCREDITATION WHICH ARE PRESCRIBED OTHER THAN BY LAW; TO CREATE A NEW SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 37-17-12, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM CERTAIN STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS AND THE PROCESS STANDARDS SET FORTH IN THE MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACCOUNTABILITY MANUAL; TO AMEND SECTION 37-3-4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT PRINCIPALS AND ADMINISTRATORS WITH CAREER LEVEL CERTIFICATIONS IN SCHOOLS ACCREDITED AT LEVEL 4 OR 5 FROM CERTAIN CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-3-46, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM THE REQUIREMENT OF RECEIVING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IN REGARD TO FINANCIAL AND PERSONNEL APPRAISAL AND COMPENSATION SYSTEMS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-3-49, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-7-337, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO THE CREATION OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT PLANS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-17-8, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO STAFF DEVELOPMENT PLANS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-21-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS RELATED TO THE EMPLOYMENT OF ASSISTANT TEACHERS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-13-61, 37-13-67 AND 37-13-69, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO DESIGNATE THE OPENING AND CLOSING DATES OF THE SCHOOL TERM, THE NUMBER OF TEACHING HOURS PER SCHOOL DAY AND HOLIDAYS THAT ARE TO BE OBSERVED IN THE DISTRICT; TO AMEND SECTION 37-41-53, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT SCHOOL BOARDS REQUIRE SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES TO BE INSPECTED ACCORDING TO STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULATIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-7-301, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO CONTRACT WITH PRIVATE ENTITIES TO PROVIDE CERTAIN NONINSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 37-7-301.1, Mississippi Code of 1972:
37-7-301.1. The school board of a school district may adopt any orders, resolutions or ordinances with respect to school district affairs, property and finances which are not inconsistent with the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, the Mississippi Code of 1972, or any other statute or law of the State of Mississippi. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the powers granted to the school boards in this section are complete without the existence of or reference to any specific authority granted in any other statute or law of the State of Mississippi. Unless such actions are specifically authorized by another statute or law of the State of Mississippi, this section shall not authorize a school board to: (a) levy taxes of any kind or increase the levy of any authorized tax; (b) issue bonds of any kind; or (c) enter into collective bargaining agreements.
SECTION 2. Section 37-17-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-17-11. The State Board of Education, in its discretion, may exempt any school district meeting Level 4 or 5 state accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, from any compulsory standard of accreditation. * * * However, if the standard of accreditation is an educational policy required by statute, any such exemption shall only be made if specifically authorized by law.
SECTION 3. The following shall be codified as Section 37-17-12, Mississippi Code of 1972:
37-17-12. (1) (a) Effective July 1, 2006, principals and administrators with career level certifications at schools with Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards shall be exempted from the provisions pursuant to Section 37-3-4, subject to approval of the local superintendent.
(b) Effective July 1, 2006, school districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the provisions pursuant to Sections 37-3-46, 37-3-49 (2), 37-7-337, 37-17-8, and 37-21-7(4).
(c) The State Department of Education shall develop a policy to determine reevaluation of exemption status.
(2) The State Department of Education is directed to provide a report of all exempted process standards and nonexempted process standards to the Office of the Governor, the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, and the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents by December 1, 2007.
SECTION 4. Section 37-3-4, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-3-4. (1) There is established within the State Department of Education, the School Executive Management Institute. The director shall be appointed by the State Board of Education upon recommendation by the State Superintendent of Public Education. The State Superintendent of Public Education, with the approval of the State Board of Education, shall assign sufficient staff members from the State Department of Education to the institute.
(2) It shall be the purpose and duty of the institute to conduct thorough empirical studies and analyses of the school management needs of the local school districts throughout the state, to make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding standards and programs of training that aid in the development of administrative and management skills of local school administrators, and to conduct such programs related to these purposes as they are implemented under guidelines established by the State Board of Education.
(3) The State Board of Education shall develop and implement through the School Executive Management Institute a program for the development of administrative and management skills of local school administrators under which all local school administrators shall be required to participate. Subject to the extent of appropriations available for such purpose, the School Executive Management Institute or the Mississippi School Boards Association shall be required to offer courses at least twice a year on the uses of technology to principals, superintendents and other administrative personnel. These courses shall relate to the application of technology to learning, as well as administrative problems.
(4) (a) The institute shall have an advisory board composed of ten (10) qualified members appointed by the State Board of Education after consultation with the State Superintendent of Public Education. This advisory board will offer recommendations to the institute on the types of training to be instituted and supported. The membership of the advisory board shall be composed of the following members, two (2) to be appointed from each congressional district: three (3) school administrators; one (1) representative of public community/junior colleges within the state; one (1) representative of a school of education in an institution of higher learning within the state; two (2) local school board members; one (1) classroom teacher; and two (2) lay persons. In making the initial appointments, three (3) members shall be appointed for a term of one (1) year, three (3) members shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years, two (2) members shall be appointed for a term of three (3) years, and two (2) members shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years. Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years. The advisory board shall meet when called by the director, but in no event fewer than three (3) times per year. The members of the advisory board shall be compensated at the per diem rate authorized by Section 25-3-69 and reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses as authorized by Section 25-3-41.
(b) Board members of the Oxford-Lafayette Business and Industrial Complex shall be paid per diem and reimbursed for expenses and mileage from local funds in accordance with Section 37-6-13.
(5) (a) Basic Education Course. Subject to the extent of appropriations available for such purpose, the School Executive Management Institute of the State Department of Education shall prepare and conduct a course of training for basic education for the local school board members of this state, in order for board members to carry out their duties more effectively and be exposed to new ideas involving school restructuring. The basic course shall be known as the "School Board Member Training Course" and shall consist of at least twelve (12) hours of training. The School Executive Management Institute shall issue certificates of completion to those school board members who complete the basic education course.
(b) Continuing Education Course. The Mississippi School Boards Association shall be responsible for preparing and conducting a course of training for continuing education for the local school board members of this state, in order for board members to carry out their duties more effectively and be exposed to new ideas involving school restructuring. The continuing education course shall be known as the "Continuing Education Course for School Board Members" and shall consist of at least six (6) hours of training.
The Mississippi School Boards Association shall issue certificates of completion to those school board members who complete the continuing education course. All costs and expenses for preparing and conducting the continuing education course provided for in this paragraph shall be paid out of any funds which are made available to the Mississippi School Boards Association upon authorization and appropriation by the Legislature to the State Department of Education.
(6) The Mississippi School Boards Association shall prepare and submit a report each year to the State Board of Education and to the respective Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees describing the activities and providing an evaluation of the continuing education programs offered by the association each year.
(7) The School Executive Management Institute of the State Department of Education, or the Mississippi School Boards Association with the oversight of the State Board of Education, at least twice a year, shall prepare and conduct required courses of training for continuing education for the elementary and secondary school principals of this state, in order for principals to carry out their duties more effectively and be exposed to new ideas involving school management. The continuing education course shall be known as the "Continuing Education Course for Principals" and shall consist of at least six (6) hours of training. The content of the continuing education courses and the time and place such courses are to be conducted shall be determined by the School Executive Management Institute or the Mississippi School Boards Association; however, to the extent practicable, such training sessions shall be held within geographical proximity of local districts in order that travel times and costs shall not be prohibitive.
The institute shall issue certificates of completion to those principals who complete such courses. All costs and expenses for preparing and conducting the basic and continuing education courses provided for in this subsection shall be paid out of any funds which are made available to the institute upon authorization and appropriation by the Legislature.
(8) Principals and other administrators with career level certifications at schools meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards are exempt from the requirements of this section, subject to approval of the local superintendent.
SECTION 5. Section 37-3-46, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-3-46. * * * The State Department of Education, in regard to any district not meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall:
(a) Provide to local school districts financial, training and other assistance to implement and maintain a state program of educational accountability and assessment of performance.
(b) Provide to local school districts technical assistance and training in the development, implementation and administration of a personnel appraisal and compensation system for all school employees. * * *
(c) Provide to local school districts technical assistance in the development, implementation and administration of programs designed to keep children in school voluntarily and to prevent dropouts.
* * *
SECTION 6. Section 37-3-49, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-3-49. (1) The State Department of Education shall provide an instructional program and establish guidelines and procedures for managing such program in the public schools as part of the State Program of Educational Accountability and Assessment of Performance as prescribed in Section 37-3-46. Public school districts may (a) elect to adopt the instructional program and management system provided by the State Department of Education, or (b) elect to adopt an instructional program and management system which meets or exceeds criteria established by the State Department of Education for such. This provision shall begin with the courses taught in Grades K-8 which contain skills tested through the Mississippi Basic Skills Assessment Program and shall proceed through all secondary school courses mandated for graduation and all secondary school courses in the Mississippi end-of-course testing program. Other state core objectives must be included in the district's instructional program as they are provided by the State Department of Education along with instructional practices, resources, evaluation items and management procedures. Districts are encouraged to adapt this program and accompanying procedures to all other instructional areas. The department shall provide that such program and guidelines, or a program and guidelines developed by a local school district which incorporates the core objectives from the curriculum structure are enforced through the performance-based accreditation system. It is the intent of the Legislature that every effort be made to protect the instructional time in the classroom and reduce the amount of paperwork which must be completed by teachers. The State Department of Education shall take steps to insure that school districts properly use staff development time to work on the districts' instructional management plans.
(2) The State Department of Education shall provide such instructional program and management guidelines which shall require for every public school district that:
(a) All courses taught in Grades K-8 which contain skills which are tested through the Mississippi Basic Skills Assessment Program, all secondary school courses mandated for graduation, and all courses in the end-of-course testing program shall include the State Department of Education's written list of learning objectives.
(b) The local school board must adopt the objectives that will form the core curriculum which will be systematically delivered throughout the district.
(c) The set of objectives provided by the State Department of Education must be accompanied by suggested instructional practices and resources that would help teachers organize instruction so as to promote student learning of the objectives. Objectives added by the school district must also be accompanied by suggested instructional practices and resources that would help teachers organize instruction. The instructional practices and resources that are identified are to be used as suggestions and not as requirements that teachers must follow. The goal of the program is to have students to achieve the desired objective and not to limit teachers in the way they teach.
(d) Standards for student performance must be established for each core objective in the local program and those standards establish the district's definition of mastery for each objective.
(e) There shall be an annual review of student performance in the instructional program against locally established standards. When weaknesses exist in the local instructional program, the district shall take action to improve student performance.
(3) The State Board of Education and the board of trustees of each school district shall adopt policies to limit and reduce the number and length of written reports that classroom teachers are required to prepare.
(4) This section shall not be construed to limit teachers from using their own professional skills to help students master instructional objectives, nor shall it be construed as a call for more detailed or complex lesson plans or any increase in testing at the local school district level.
(5) Districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the provisions of subsection (2) of this section.
SECTION 7. Section 37-7-337, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-7-337. (1) The governing authorities of the county, counties or city in which a school district is located and the school board of each school district shall develop a five-year plan to encourage community involvement with the schools in such district. * * *
(2) Districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the mandatory provisions of this section.
SECTION 8. Section 37-17-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-17-8. (1) The State Board of Education, through the Commission on School Accreditation, shall establish criteria for comprehensive in-service staff development plans. These criteria shall: (a) include, but not be limited to, formula and guidelines for allocating available state funds for in-service training to local school districts; (b) require that a portion of the plans be devoted exclusively for the purpose of providing staff development training for beginning teachers within that local school district and for no other purpose; and (c) require that a portion of the school district's in-service training for administrators and teachers be dedicated to the application and utilization of various disciplinary techniques. The board shall each year make recommendations to the Legislature concerning the amount of funds which shall be appropriated for this purpose.
(2) * * * School districts shall not be required to submit staff development plans to the Commission on School Accreditation for approval. However, any school district accredited at Level 1 or Level 2 shall include, as a part of any required corrective action plan, provisions to address staff development in accordance with State Board of Education requirements. All school districts, unless specifically exempt from this section, must maintain on file staff development plans as required under this section. The plan shall have been prepared by a district committee appointed by the district superintendent and consisting of teachers, administrators, school board members, and lay people, and it shall have been approved by the district superintendent.
(3) In order to insure that teachers are not overburdened with paperwork and written reports, local school districts and the State Board of Education shall take such steps as may be necessary to further the reduction of paperwork requirements on teachers.
(4) Districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the mandatory provisions of this section relating to staff development plans.
SECTION 9. Section 37-21-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-21-7. (1) This section shall be referred to as the "Mississippi Elementary Schools Assistant Teacher Program," the purpose of which shall be to provide an early childhood education program that assists in the instruction of basic skills. The State Board of Education is authorized, empowered and directed to implement a statewide system of assistant teachers in kindergarten classes and in the first, second and third grades. The assistant teacher shall assist pupils in actual instruction under the strict supervision of a licensed teacher.
(2) (a) Except as otherwise authorized under subsection (7), each school district shall employ the total number of assistant teachers funded under subsection (6) of this section. The superintendent of each district shall assign the assistant teachers to the kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade classes in the district in a manner that will promote the maximum efficiency, as determined by the superintendent, in the instruction of skills such as verbal and linguistic skills, logical and mathematical skills, and social skills.
(b) If a licensed teacher to whom an assistant teacher has been assigned is required to be absent from the classroom, the assistant teacher may assume responsibility for the classroom in lieu of a substitute teacher. However, no assistant teacher shall assume sole responsibility of the classroom for more than three (3) consecutive school days. Further, in no event shall any assistant teacher be assigned to serve as a substitute teacher for any teacher other than the licensed teacher to whom that assistant teacher has been assigned.
(3) Assistant teachers shall have, at a minimum, a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, and shall show demonstratable proficiency in reading and writing skills. The State Department of Education shall develop a testing procedure for assistant teacher applicants to be used in all school districts in the state.
(4) (a) In order to receive funding, each school district shall:
(i) Submit a plan on the implementation of a reading improvement program to the State Department of Education; and
(ii) Develop a plan of educational accountability and assessment of performance, including pretests and posttests, for reading in Grades 1 through 6.
(b) Additionally, each school district shall:
(i) Provide annually a mandatory preservice orientation session, using an existing in-school service day, for administrators and teachers on the effective use of assistant teachers as part of a team in the classroom setting and on the role of assistant teachers, with emphasis on program goals;
(ii) Hold periodic workshops for administrators and teachers on the effective use and supervision of assistant teachers;
(iii) Provide training annually on specific instructional skills for assistant teachers;
(iv) Annually evaluate their program in accordance with their educational accountability and assessment of performance plan; and
(v) Designate the necessary personnel to supervise and report on their program.
(5) The State Department of Education shall:
(a) Develop and assist in the implementation of a statewide uniform training module, subject to the availability of funds specifically appropriated therefor by the Legislature, which shall be used in all school districts for training administrators, teachers and assistant teachers. The module shall provide for the consolidated training of each assistant teacher and teacher to whom the assistant teacher is assigned, working together as a team, and shall require further periodical training for administrators, teachers and assistant teachers regarding the role of assistant teachers;
(b) Annually evaluate the program on the district and state level. Subject to the availability of funds specifically appropriated therefor by the Legislature, the department shall develop: (i) uniform evaluation reports, to be performed by the principal or assistant principal, to collect data for the annual overall program evaluation conducted by the department; or (ii) a program evaluation model that, at a minimum, addresses process evaluation; and
(c) Promulgate rules, regulations and such other standards deemed necessary to effectuate the purposes of this section. Noncompliance with the provisions of this section and any rules, regulations or standards adopted by the department may result in a violation of compulsory accreditation standards as established by the State Board of Education and Commission on School Accreditation.
(6) In addition to other funds allotted under the Minimum Education or Adequate Education Program, each school district shall be allotted sufficient funding for the purpose of employingassistant teachers. No assistant teacher shall be paid less than the amount he or she received in the prior school year. No school district shall receive any funds under this section for any school year during which the aggregate amount of the local contribution to the salaries of assistant teachers by the district shall have been reduced below such amount for the previous year.
* * *
For the 2005-2006 school year and school years thereafter, the minimum salary for assistant teachers shall be Twelve Thousand Dollars ($12,000.00).
In addition, for each one percent (1%) that the Sine Die General Fund Revenue Estimate Growth exceeds five percent (5%) in fiscal year * * * 2006, as certified by the Legislative Budget Office to the State Board of Education and subject to the specific appropriation therefor by the Legislature, the State Board of Education shall revise the salary scale in the appropriate year to provide an additional one percent (1%) across the board increase in the base salaries for assistant teachers. The State Board of Education shall revise the salaries prescribed above for assistant teachers to conform to any adjustments made in prior fiscal years due to revenue growth over and above five percent (5%). The assistant teachers shall not be restricted to working only in the grades for which the funds were allotted, but may be assigned to other classes as provided in subsection (2)(a) of this section.
(7) (a) As an alternative to employing assistant teachers, any school district may use the allotment provided under subsection (6) of this section for the purpose of employing licensed teachers for kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade classes; however, no school district shall be authorized to use the allotment for assistant teachers for the purpose of employing licensed teachers unless the district has established that the employment of licensed teachers using such funds will reduce the teacher:student ratio in the kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade classes. All state funds for assistant teachers shall be applied to reducing teacher:student ratio in Grades K-3.
It is the intent of the Legislature that no school district shall dismiss any assistant teacher for the purpose of using theassistant teacher allotment to employ licensed teachers. School districts may rely only upon normal attrition to reduce the number of assistant teachers employed in that district.
(b) Districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.
SECTION 10. Section 37-13-61, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-61. The local school board shall have the power and authority to fix the date for the opening and closing of the school term, subject to the minimum number of days which schools must be in session during a scholastic year, as prescribed under Section 37-13-63. * * * However, * * * local school boards are authorized to keep school in session in excess of the minimum number of days prescribed in Section 37-13-63.
SECTION 11. Section 37-13-67, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-67. * * * The number of hours of actual teaching which shall constitute a school day shall be determined and fixed by the board of trustees of the school district at not less than five (5) hours * * *.
SECTION 12. Section 37-13-69, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-69. All public schools of this state may observe such legal holidays as may be designated by the local school board, and no sessions of school shall be held on holidays so designated and observed. However, all schools shall operate for the full minimum term required by law exclusive of the holidays authorized by this section. The holidays thus observed shall not be deducted from the reports of the superintendents, principals and teachers, and such superintendents, principals and teachers shall be allowed pay for full time as though they had taught on those holidays. However, such holidays shall not be counted or included in any way in determining the average daily attendance of the school.
SECTION 13. Section 37-41-53, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-41-53. (1) Each school board, person, firm or corporation transporting public school children on the public roads, streets and highways of the state with motor vehicles shall have the motor vehicles inspected according to the laws of the state * * *. Each motor vehicle shall be inspected by a competent mechanic to be safe for transporting pupils on the roads, streets and highways of the state before it is released for such purpose. If such motor vehicle is found to be unsafe for transporting pupils, then it shall be properly repaired or adjusted as necessary before being used to transport pupils. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to vehicles owned by individuals and under private contract to the school district and used exclusively for transporting members of their immediate families.
(2) The State Department of Education may inspect, at its discretion, * * * any school bus used for transporting pupils to and from the public schools or for activity purposes to determine the safety of such motor vehicle for operation on the roads, streets and highways of this state. In the event a vehicle is inspected and is found to be unsafe for transporting pupils, a report shall be filed with the appropriate school official indicating its deficiencies with recommendations for correcting such deficiencies.
(3) If it is determined that any buses are in such defective condition as to constitute an emergency safety hazard, those buses may be condemned and removed from service and shall not be returned to service until adequate repairs are completed and such buses are reinspected by the State Department of Education. Any school official who approves the operation of any school bus that has been removed from service under the conditions listed above, prior to being reinspected by the State Department of Education, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days, or a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
SECTION 14. Section 37-7-301, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-7-301. The school boards of all school districts shall have the following powers, authority and duties in addition to all others imposed or granted by law, to wit:
(a) To organize and operate the schools of the district and to make such division between the high school grades and elementary grades as, in their judgment, will serve the best interests of the school;
(b) To introduce public school music, art, manual training and other special subjects into either the elementary or high school grades, as the board shall deem proper;
(c) To be the custodians of real and personal school property and to manage, control and care for same, both during the school term and during vacation;
(d) To have responsibility for the erection, repairing and equipping of school facilities and the making of necessary school improvements;
(e) To suspend or to expel a pupil or to change the placement of a pupil to the school district's alternative school or home-bound program for misconduct in the school or on school property, as defined in Section 37-11-29, on the road to and from school, or at any school-related activity or event, or for conduct occurring on property other than school property or other than at a school-related activity or event when such conduct by a pupil, in the determination of the school superintendent or principal, renders that pupil's presence in the classroom a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the pupils and teacher of such class as a whole, and to delegate such authority to the appropriate officials of the school district;
(f) To visit schools in the district, in their discretion, in a body for the purpose of determining what can be done for the improvement of the school in a general way;
(g) To support, within reasonable limits, the superintendent, principal and teachers where necessary for the proper discipline of the school;
(h) To exclude from the schools students with what appears to be infectious or contagious diseases; provided, however, such student may be allowed to return to school upon presenting a certificate from a public health officer, duly licensed physician or nurse practitioner that the student is free from such disease;
(i) To require those vaccinations specified by the State Health Officer as provided in Section 41-23-37;
(j) To see that all necessary utilities and services are provided in the schools at all times when same are needed;
(k) To authorize the use of the school buildings and grounds for the holding of public meetings and gatherings of the people under such regulations as may be prescribed by said board;
(l) To prescribe and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with law or with the regulations of the State Board of Education for their own government and for the government of the schools, and to transact their business at regular and special meetings called and held in the manner provided by law;
(m) To maintain and operate all of the schools under their control for such length of time during the year as may be required;
(n) To enforce in the schools the courses of study and the use of the textbooks prescribed by the proper authorities;
(o) To make orders directed to the superintendent of schools for the issuance of pay certificates for lawful purposes on any available funds of the district and to have full control of the receipt, distribution, allotment and disbursement of all funds provided for the support and operation of the schools of such school district whether such funds be derived from state appropriations, local ad valorem tax collections, or otherwise. The local school board shall be authorized and empowered to promulgate rules and regulations that specify the types of claims and set limits of the dollar amount for payment of claims by the superintendent of schools to be ratified by the board at the next regularly scheduled meeting after payment has been made;
(p) To select all school district personnel in the manner provided by law, and to provide for such employee fringe benefit programs, including accident reimbursement plans, as may be deemed necessary and appropriate by the board;
(q) To provide athletic programs and other school activities and to regulate the establishment and operation of such programs and activities;
(r) To join, in their discretion, any association of school boards and other public school-related organizations, and to pay from local funds other than minimum foundation funds, any membership dues;
(s) To expend local school activity funds, or other available school district funds, other than minimum education program funds, for the purposes prescribed under this paragraph. "Activity funds" shall mean all funds received by school officials in all school districts paid or collected to participate in any school activity, such activity being part of the school program and partially financed with public funds or supplemented by public funds. The term "activity funds" shall not include any funds raised and/or expended by any organization unless commingled in a bank account with existing activity funds, regardless of whether the funds were raised by school employees or received by school employees during school hours or using school facilities, and regardless of whether a school employee exercises influence over the expenditure or disposition of such funds. Organizations shall not be required to make any payment to any school for the use of any school facility if, in the discretion of the local school governing board, the organization's function shall be deemed to be beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the school. For the purposes of this provision, the term "organization" shall not include any organization subject to the control of the local school governing board. Activity funds may only be expended for any necessary expenses or travel costs, including advances, incurred by students and their chaperons in attending any in-state or out-of-state school-related programs, conventions or seminars and/or any commodities, equipment, travel expenses, purchased services or school supplies which the local school governing board, in its discretion, shall deem beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the district, including items which may subsequently become the personal property of individuals, including yearbooks, athletic apparel, book covers and trophies. Activity funds may be used to pay travel expenses of school district personnel. The local school governing board shall be authorized and empowered to promulgate rules and regulations specifically designating for what purposes school activity funds may be expended. The local school governing board shall provide (i) that such school activity funds shall be maintained and expended by the principal of the school generating the funds in individual bank accounts, or (ii) that such school activity funds shall be maintained and expended by the superintendent of schools in a central depository approved by the board. The local school governing board shall provide that such school activity funds be audited as part of the annual audit required in Section 37-9-18. The State Department of Education shall prescribe a uniform system of accounting and financial reporting for all school activity fund transactions;
(t) To contract, on a shared savings, lease or lease-purchase basis, for energy efficiency services and/or equipment as provided for in Section 31-7-14, not to exceed ten (10) years;
(u) To maintain accounts and issue pay certificates on school food service bank accounts;
(v) (i) To lease a school building from an individual, partnership, nonprofit corporation or a private for-profit corporation for the use of such school district, and to expend funds therefor as may be available from any nonminimum program sources. The school board of the school district desiring to lease a school building shall declare by resolution that a need exists for a school building and that the school district cannot provide the necessary funds to pay the cost or its proportionate share of the cost of a school building required to meet the present needs. The resolution so adopted by the school board shall be published once each week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the school district involved, with the first publication thereof to be made not less than thirty (30) days prior to the date upon which the school board is to act on the question of leasing a school building. If no petition requesting an election is filed prior to such meeting as hereinafter provided, then the school board may, by resolution spread upon its minutes, proceed to lease a school building. If at any time prior to said meeting a petition signed by not less than twenty percent (20%) or fifteen hundred (1500), whichever is less, of the qualified electors of the school district involved shall be filed with the school board requesting that an election be called on the question, then the school board shall, not later than the next regular meeting, adopt a resolution calling an election to be held within such school district upon the question of authorizing the school board to lease a school building. Such election shall be called and held, and notice thereof shall be given, in the same manner for elections upon the questions of the issuance of the bonds of school districts, and the results thereof shall be certified to the school board. If at least three-fifths (3/5) of the qualified electors of the school district who voted in such election shall vote in favor of the leasing of a school building, then the school board shall proceed to lease a school building. The term of the lease contract shall not exceed twenty (20) years, and the total cost of such lease shall be either the amount of the lowest and best bid accepted by the school board after advertisement for bids or an amount not to exceed the current fair market value of the lease as determined by the averaging of at least two (2) appraisals by certified general appraisers licensed by the State of Mississippi. The term "school building" as used in this paragraph (v)(i) shall be construed to mean any building or buildings used for classroom purposes in connection with the operation of schools and shall include the site therefor, necessary support facilities, and the equipment thereof and appurtenances thereto such as heating facilities, water supply, sewage disposal, landscaping, walks, drives and playgrounds. The term "lease" as used in this paragraph (v)(i) may include a lease/purchase contract;
(ii) If two (2) or more school districts propose to enter into a lease contract jointly, then joint meetings of the school boards having control may be held but no action taken shall be binding on any such school district unless the question of leasing a school building is approved in each participating school district under the procedure hereinabove set forth in paragraph (v)(i). All of the provisions of paragraph (v)(i) regarding the term and amount of the lease contract shall apply to the school boards of school districts acting jointly. Any lease contract executed by two (2) or more school districts as joint lessees shall set out the amount of the aggregate lease rental to be paid by each, which may be agreed upon, but there shall be no right of occupancy by any lessee unless the aggregate rental is paid as stipulated in the lease contract. All rights of joint lessees under the lease contract shall be in proportion to the amount of lease rental paid by each;
(w) To employ all noninstructional and noncertificated employees and fix the duties and compensation of such personnel deemed necessary pursuant to the recommendation of the superintendent of schools;
(x) To employ and fix the duties and compensation of such legal counsel as deemed necessary;
(y) Subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, to purchase, own and operate trucks, vans and other motor vehicles, which shall bear the proper identification required by law;
(z) To expend funds for the payment of substitute teachers and to adopt reasonable regulations for the employment and compensation of such substitute teachers;
(aa) To acquire in its own name by purchase all real property which shall be necessary and desirable in connection with the construction, renovation or improvement of any public school building or structure. Whenever the purchase price for such real property is greater than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), the school board shall not purchase the property for an amount exceeding the fair market value of such property as determined by the average of at least two (2) independent appraisals by certified general appraisers licensed by the State of Mississippi. If the board shall be unable to agree with the owner of any such real property in connection with any such project, the board shall have the power and authority to acquire any such real property by condemnation proceedings pursuant to Section 11-27-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, and for such purpose, the right of eminent domain is hereby conferred upon and vested in said board. Provided further, that the local school board is authorized to grant an easement for ingress and egress over sixteenth section land or lieu land in exchange for a similar easement upon adjoining land where the exchange of easements affords substantial benefit to the sixteenth section land; provided, however, the exchange must be based upon values as determined by a competent appraiser, with any differential in value to be adjusted by cash payment. Any easement rights granted over sixteenth section land under such authority shall terminate when the easement ceases to be used for its stated purpose. No sixteenth section or lieu land which is subject to an existing lease shall be burdened by any such easement except by consent of the lessee or unless the school district shall acquire the unexpired leasehold interest affected by the easement;
(bb) To charge reasonable fees related to the educational programs of the district, in the manner prescribed in Section 37-7-335;
(cc) Subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, to purchase relocatable classrooms for the use of such school district, in the manner prescribed in Section 37-1-13;
(dd) Enter into contracts or agreements with other school districts, political subdivisions or governmental entities to carry out one or more of the powers or duties of the school board, or to allow more efficient utilization of limited resources for providing services to the public;
(ee) To provide for in-service training for employees of the district * * *;
(ff) As part of their duties to prescribe the use of textbooks, to provide that parents and legal guardians shall be responsible for the textbooks and for the compensation to the school district for any books which are not returned to the proper schools upon the withdrawal of their dependent child. If a textbook is lost or not returned by any student who drops out of the public school district, the parent or legal guardian shall also compensate the school district for the fair market value of the textbooks;
(gg) To conduct fund-raising activities on behalf of the school district that the local school board, in its discretion, deems appropriate or beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the district; provided that:
(i) Any proceeds of the fund-raising activities shall be treated as "activity funds" and shall be accounted for as are other activity funds under this section; and
(ii) Fund-raising activities conducted or authorized by the board for the sale of school pictures, the rental of caps and gowns or the sale of graduation invitations for which the school board receives a commission, rebate or fee shall contain a disclosure statement advising that a portion of the proceeds of the sales or rentals shall be contributed to the student activity fund;
(hh) To allow individual lessons for music, art and other curriculum-related activities for academic credit or nonacademic credit during school hours and using school equipment and facilities, subject to uniform rules and regulations adopted by the school board;
(ii) To charge reasonable fees for participating in an extracurricular activity for academic or nonacademic credit for necessary and required equipment such as safety equipment, band instruments and uniforms;
(jj) To conduct or participate in any fund-raising activities on behalf of or in connection with a tax-exempt charitable organization;
(kk) To exercise such powers as may be reasonably necessary to carry out the provisions of this section;
(ll) To expend funds for the services of nonprofit arts organizations or other such nonprofit organizations who provide performances or other services for the students of the school district;
(mm) To expend federal No Child Left Behind Act funds, or any other available funds that are expressly designated and authorized for that use, to pay training, educational expenses, salary incentives and salary supplements to employees of local school districts; except that incentives shall not be considered part of the local supplement as defined in Section 37-151-5(o), nor shall incentives be considered part of the local supplement paid to an individual teacher for the purposes of Section 37-19-7(1). Mississippi Adequate Education Program funds or any other state funds may not be used for salary incentives or salary supplements as provided in this paragraph (mm);
(nn) To use any available funds, not appropriated or designated for any other purpose, for reimbursement to the state-licensed employees from both in-state and out-of-state, who enter into a contract for employment in a school district, for the expense of moving when the employment necessitates the relocation of the licensed employee to a different geographical area than that in which the licensed employee resides before entering into the contract. The reimbursement shall not exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for the documented actual expenses incurred in the course of relocating, including the expense of any professional moving company or persons employed to assist with the move, rented moving vehicles or equipment, mileage in the amount authorized for county and municipal employees under Section 25-3-41 if the licensed employee used his personal vehicle or vehicles for the move, meals and such other expenses associated with the relocation. No licensed employee may be reimbursed for moving expenses under this section on more than one (1) occasion by the same school district. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the actual residence to which the licensed employee relocates to be within the boundaries of the school district that has executed a contract for employment in order for the licensed employee to be eligible for reimbursement for the moving expenses. However, the licensed employee must relocate within the boundaries of the State of Mississippi. Any individual receiving relocation assistance through the Critical Teacher Shortage Act as provided in Section 37-159-5 shall not be eligible to receive additional relocation funds as authorized in this paragraph;
(oo) To use any available funds, not appropriated or designated for any other purpose, to reimburse persons who interview for employment as a licensed employee with the district for the mileage and other actual expenses incurred in the course of travel to and from the interview at the rate authorized for county and municipal employees under Section 25-3-41;
(pp) Consistent with the report of the Task Force to Conduct a Best Financial Management Practices Review, to improve school district management and use of resources and identify cost savings as established in Section 8 of Chapter 610, Laws of 2002, local school boards are encouraged to conduct independent reviews of the management and efficiency of schools and school districts. Such management and efficiency reviews shall provide state and local officials and the public with the following:
(i) An assessment of a school district's governance and organizational structure;
(ii) An assessment of the school district's financial and personnel management;
(iii) An assessment of revenue levels and sources;
(iv) An assessment of facilities utilization, planning and maintenance;
(v) An assessment of food services, transportation and safety/security systems;
(vi) An assessment of instructional and administrative technology;
(vii) A review of the instructional management and the efficiency and effectiveness of existing instructional programs; and
(viii) Recommended methods for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in providing educational services to the public;
(qq) To enter into agreements with other local school boards for the establishment of an educational service agency (ESA) to provide for the cooperative needs of the region in which the school district is located, as provided in Section 37-7-345. This paragraph shall repeal on July 1, 2007;
(rr) To implement a financial literacy program for students in Grades 10 and 11. The board may review the national programs and obtain free literature from various nationally recognized programs. After review of the different programs, the board may certify a program that is most appropriate for the school districts' needs. If a district implements a financial literacy program, then any student in Grade 10 or 11 may participate in the program. The financial literacy program shall include, but is not limited to, instruction in the same areas of personal business and finance as required under Section 37-1-3(2)(b). The school board may coordinate with volunteer teachers from local community organizations, including, but not limited to, the following: United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Junior Achievement, bankers and other nonprofit organizations. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as to require school boards to implement a financial literacy program;
(ss) To collaborate with the State Board of Education, Community Action Agencies or the Department of Human Services to develop and implement a voluntary program to provide services for a full-day prekindergarten program that addresses the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of four-year-old and three-year-old children. The school board may utilize nonstate source special funds, grants, donations or gifts to fund the voluntary program;
(tt) With respect to any lawful, written obligation of a school district, including, but not limited to, leases (excluding leases of sixteenth section public school trust land), bonds, notes, or other agreement, to agree in writing with the obligee that the State Tax Commission or any state agency, department or commission created under state law may:
(i) Withhold all or any part (as agreed by the school board) of any monies which such local school board is entitled to receive from time to time under any law and which is in the possession of the State Tax Commission, or any state agency, department or commission created under state law; and
(ii) Pay the same over to any financial institution, trustee or other obligee, as directed in writing by the school board, to satisfy all or part of such obligation of the school district.
The school board may make such written agreement to withhold and transfer funds irrevocable for the term of the written obligation and may include in the written agreement any other terms and provisions acceptable to the school board. If the school board files a copy of such written agreement with the State Tax Commission, or any state agency, department or commission created under state law then the State Tax Commission or any state agency, department or commission created under state law shall immediately make the withholdings provided in such agreement from the amounts due the local school board and shall continue to pay the same over to such financial institution, trustee or obligee for the term of the agreement.
This paragraph (tt) shall not grant any extra authority to a school board to issue debt in any amount exceeding statutory limitations on assessed value of taxable property within such school district or the statutory limitations on debt maturities, and shall not grant any extra authority to impose, levy or collect a tax which is not otherwise expressly provided for, and shall not be construed to apply to sixteenth section public school trust land;
(uu) With respect to any matter or transaction that is competitively bid by a school district, to accept from any bidder as a good faith deposit or bid bond or bid surety, the same type of good faith deposit or bid bond or bid surety that may be accepted by the state or any other political subdivision on similar competitively bid matters or transactions. This paragraph (uu) shall not be construed to apply to sixteenth section public school trust land. The school board may authorize the investment of any school district funds in the same kind and manner of investments, including pooled investments, as any other political subdivision, including community hospitals; * * *
(vv) To utilize the alternate method for the conveyance or exchange of unused school buildings and/or land, reserving a partial or other undivided interest in the property, as specifically authorized and provided in Section 37-7-485, Mississippi Code of 1972; and
(ww) To delegate, privatize or otherwise enter into a contract with private entities for the operation of any and all functions of nonacademic school process, procedures and operations including, but not limited to, cafeteria workers, janitorial services, transportation, professional development, achievement and instructional consulting services materials and products, purchasing cooperatives, insurance, business manager services, auditing and accounting services, school safety/risk prevention, data processing and student records, and other staff services; however, the authority under this paragraph does not apply to the leasing, management or operation of sixteenth section lands. Local school districts, working through their regional education service agency, are encouraged to enter into buying consortia with other member districts for the purposes of more efficient use of state resources as described in Section 37-7-345.
SECTION 15. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006, and shall stand repealed on June 30, 2009.