[…] Last Thursday, House Education Committee chair Dave Sharpe unveiled draft legislation that would merge Vermont’s 277 school districts into far fewer, larger districts.
The bill gives districts until 2018 to reconfigure themselves and meet education standards, but failing that they would be forced to consolidate. Small school grants and “phantom student” subsidies that have been a lifeline for the most rural Vermont communities would be eliminated, according to the bill.
With rising property taxes hanging overhead, Vermont could be on the verge of changing the definition of “local” schools. […]
The new draft bill from the House Education Committee improves on last year’s efforts to centralize control of schools by creating an “opt-out” model instead of a “forced-in” one. Unfortunately, this will do little to reduce the cost of educating our children. The reason school budgets go up is not structural. It is because we have more children living in poverty every year.
Eighty percent of school budgets go to employees. If we don’t deal with poverty, we will need more of them. Look in your town report this year for the list of people working in the schools. You will see grade level teachers, art and music and phys ed teachers, librarians and nurses. You will also see twice as many people listed as academic support, special educator, speech pathologist, school counselor, ESOL teacher, data enterer, intensive supporter, behavior interventionist, and paraeducator. All these people provide the range of ser...
We have an education tax problem distinct from school spending. Contrary to what many believe, we cannot solve it by cutting school spending. Vermont has developed beyond the point where taxing property to pay for education can be rational, fair, or prudent. Personal income appears the best alternative tax base. […]