This is part of a series examining different views of Act 46 – the law that seeks to trim education spending while increasing equity of opportunity for Vermont kids.
Vermont’s new education reform law is intended to provide equity in opportunity for students and make quality education more affordable, in response to growing concerns about property taxes in the state, according to Rep. Scott Beck, a Republican who served his first year on the House Education Committee.
It is not intended to force small schools to close, Beck says.
“That’s baloney,” according to John Castle, superintendent of schools in the North Country Supervisory Union (NCSU).
The belief that consolidating school governance will save money and contain costs is aspirational, rather than being based on reality, Castle said. Greater opportunity for students will still cost money — whether it is spent at the local level or the supervisory union...
The state’s plan to re-organize the Vermont’s education system was met with quiet skepticism Monday night.
It might have been louder skepticism but no one — including school officials from four different towns — seemed to know exactly what it all means. School director Ray Lewis of Walden said that considering the source, he wasn’t surprised.
“I’ve talked to a lot of legislators about this and many of them have no idea what they signed or what they passed,” said Lewis. “Lots of things, in my opinion, were not fully considered and we’re going to be dealing with them in the future.”
“The wrinkles just keep coming,” said Peacham School Director Mark Clough. “It’s complicated.”
The comments were directed at the new Act 46 school law during a meeting of the full board of the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union at the Barnet School Monday.
CCSU Superintendent Matt Forest addressed representatives of the Danville, Barnet, Pe...
A confidential memo obtained by Vermont Public Radio shows that the Agency of Education is still working to decipher a school reform law passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The ambiguity centers on how to deal with the 93 Vermont towns where parents get to decide what school their children attend.
The four-page memorandum was authored by Gregory Glennon, the general counsel at the Agency of Education. It was sent last week to members of the Vermont State Board of Education.
In the memo, Glennon asks the board to resolve unanswered questions around what happens when districts with school choice — places where towns don’t operate their own elementary, middle or high school — merge into a new governance structure that has schools those students could now attend.
Would the students from the choice districts have to attend the school in the merged structure? Would students from some towns in the...
The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue the state over a variable cap on school spending that was enacted in the last legislative session. The nonprofit group is actively seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the state.Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont ACLU, told a state education panel on Friday that he believes the limit on education spending is unconstitutional.Gilbert says Act 46, the new school district merger law, which features an adjustable limit on how much a school can spend over the next two years, “violates the equity provision” of the Brigham decision and the Vermont Constitution.
“We will be following how Act 46 is implemented, and what happens with school budgets,” Gilbert told the members of the Vermont State Board of Education on Friday. “We put out the word that we will entertain the requests of any school districts who want to be represented.”
Yes, it’s summer with camping trips, beach days and barbecues, and for local volunteer school board members, a chance to get their heads around Act 46 and its implications for their community school. As school board members are discovering, the law contains three levels of fiscal pressure and a requirement for governance change. But depending on your school, its size and rural nature, the law impacts you inequitably.
Vermont’s city school districts are only impacted by one lever of fiscal pressure, the Variable Spending Limit, which curbs spending variably depending on the school’s current spending level. As many of these larger communities are also among our higher spenders, they will be feeling its impact in budgeting, but for Burlington, Rutland, Barre, etc., that’s it, no governance change. That’s the extent of the impact of the law.