(a) Subject to appropriation by the Legislature therefor, the state board, in consultation with the division of health, shall promulgate rules pursuant to article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code that will address servicing public school buildings by heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) technicians. The rules shall set forth a job description for the HVAC technician. At the discretion of the state board, HVAC technicians may be employed by the county board of education, by the regional educational service agency servicing the county or by the Department of Education using the funds allocated pursuant to this section. The hiring entity shall set a salary for the HVAC technician that is competitive with other employers of HVAC technicians in the region after accounting for annual leave, sick leave, insurance benefits, retirement benefits and any other benefits provided. Existing employees who have advanced HVAC skills or existing employees who receive appropriate HVAC training may be utilized as HVAC technicians. The rules also shall provide for sufficient continuing education training for HVAC technicians to maintain proficiency in the changing technologies in the field. The rules shall be submitted to the Legislative Oversight commission on educational accountability prior to September 1, 1999.
(b) County boards, regional educational service agencies and the Department of Education shall have the option to contract for HVAC services from prequalified vendors if this option is more cost effective than using existing employees or creating a new position: Provided, That an existing employee may not be displaced by contracting for HVAC technician services: Provided, however, That HVAC services that have been performed in the past or which require knowledge and experience the employer does not have access to, may be contracted out to a prequalified vendor.
(c) Funds appropriated for the purpose of hiring HVAC technicians shall be appropriated originally to the Department of Education. The Department of Education then may allocate the funds to the regional educational service agencies or to the counties, depending upon which entity employs the HVAC technician as specified by rule.