The new school governance law, Act 46, is simply the most recent wave in almost two centuries of contentious school consolidation debates. Amazingly, the claims, disagreements and philosophical differences remain unchanged.
The primary conflict is between advocates marching under the flag of local democracy, closely tied to the community and the people, versus those with a particular reform agenda. The latter contend the current system is antiquated, inefficient and unresponsive to population changes and financial limitations. The tides affecting these contending forces include at least three historic enrollment recessions, the economy, the national consolidation movements, and changes in educational philosophy. Plain political power disputes came into kaleidoscopic display as state politicians and vested interest groups sought centralized powers while locals resisted such “usur...
Vermont education officials are trying to reconcile new and old laws in a way that won’t accelerate the closure of schools, or open up the tuition option for more students.
At odds are provisions in Act 46, the law created during the most recent legislative session that offers a pathway for the merger of many of the state’s nearly 300 school districts by 2020.
The law includes a provision stating when districts merge, a district that offers tuition cannot be forced to give it up. At the same time, a district that operates a school cannot be forced to close it.
This policy is fine when two merging districts both offer tuition to go elsewhere, or both operate their own schools. The rub comes when two districts that operate differently look to come together.
The simplest answer is compromise, said Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe. “One option is giving up tuition,” she said. “The othe...
Today and tomorrow, more school leaders from Vermont’s 277 distinct school districts will descend on Montpelier, where they will meet individually with members of the Vermont School Boards Association, Vermont Superintendents Association, and officials from the Agency of Education (AOE) to discuss how they will begin implementing the new state law, Act 46, which is aimed at restructuring school districts into larger, more cost-effective systems that better serve students.
In June, the first such set of meetings with school board members and superintendents were held in Montpelier — notably without a quorum of board members so the meetings would not be considered public, and would not have to be warned as such.[…]