Editor’s note: This commentary is by Phil Taylor, who lives in Wilmington with his wife and three children. He is a school board director for the Twin Valley Schools and was one of several board members and administrators who lead the Twin Valley School’s consolidation and construction process.
Several years ago House Speaker Shap Smith expended a considerable amount of his budget to put together an education summit for the Legislature. It was exciting to hear the focus was on 21st century learning because it was a discussion the Legislature needed to hear. The main speaker was Tony Wagner, a respected proponent for teaching kids the 21st century skills that are essential for real world success.
I wasn’t able to attend this event. I was too busy as a school board member, helping to get our newly consolidated elementary school back on line after major construction. I asked a legislator what he thought about Wagner’s presentation on 21st century skills and the ne...
Editor’s note: This commentary is by Lyonel B. Tracy, Ed.D., who is former education commissioner in New Hampshire and the former superintendent of schools for the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union. He lives in East Haven.
Has the Vermont Legislature tampered with the upcoming school budget votes and possibly violated its own code of conduct expressly documented in Title 17 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated? The statute in question reads as follows:
§ 2666. Improper influence
Neither the warning, the notice, the official voter information cards, nor the ballot itself shall include any opinion or comment by any town body or officer or other person on any matter to be voted on.
In the upcoming votes for school budgets in Vermont, a new wrinkle has been inserted in every Australian ballot budget article presented to local voters. Additionalwording extended beyond simply asking for voters to declare their intentions as to whether or not they approve the school b...
Your 15 questions are fairly well thought out, though they mostly overlook the underlying cynicism of Act 46. It's still a money saving strategy. The emphasis of student=teacher and student-staff ratios by prominent legislators is pretty good evidence of that. You have correctly noted that, without protective language in the Articles, the Union Board can close schools (only after 4 years if its an Act 153/156 consolidation). In the Rutland South articles we provided that the Union board had to vote unanimously and the town had to vote in consent before a school could be closed. Our circumstance: two large elementaries, somewhat larger at one time; and two small ones. Money could be saved by sending all the children to two schools, and they have capacity for them. Bus rides would not be excessive (5 miles Tinmouth-Wallingford ES; 6 miles Shrewsbury Mountain School-Clarendon ES). So we, the small towns, got ourselves belt and suspenders, and we recommend that any town district in a simi...
Consolidating rural school districts with sparse enrollment is a complicated—and contentious—process that can unfold over several years.
Case in point: Vermont, where the issue has been roiling the local and legislative landscape for a year now.
Amid rising education costs for a rapidly dwindling student population, that state's legislature last year passed a law aiming to reward residents of districts willing to consolidate with a series of tax breaks—and to significantly increase the local homestead-tax rate on those districts that stay independent and spend beyond a series of caps set by the state.
The state—which spends an average of $18,000 per student, the highest rate in the nation—has more than 280 districts, serving just 80,000 students. At least 79 of those districts have fewer than 100 students, and one district has just 19.
By 2018, the state legislature hopes the consolidation law will cut the number of districts in half, allowing schoo...
When I first moved into my middle school classroom 30 years ago, our small school housed grades 4 through 8. We parked our cars in an unpaved lot, which worked out fine because there weren’t many of us.
About 10 years ago the school board and community closed the little elementary school across town, built a sizable addition onto ours, and brought grades K-8 under one roof. This was supposed to save money, but like most consolidation plans, it didn’t deliver exactly as promised, a fiscally disappointing result that can be traced mostly to benign wishful thinking. It’s worth noting, however, that in many cases consolidation boosters’ financial forecasts qualify less as wishful thinking and more as willful deception.
Anyway, along with our bigger school, we got a bigger parking lot. While adding four more grades meant we needed room for more teachers to park, the new paved lot seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t imagine how we’d ever fill it.