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.
For the rest of us the levels of fiscal pressure mount. In addition to the variable spending limit, your school could be losing hold-harmless funding and small schools grants — thus putting our smallest schools impacted by declining enrollment right in the bull’s-eye of the law, with three levels of fiscal pressure all driving up taxes.
This fiscal pressure is purposeful, as Act 46 is designed to “right-size” the education system statewide. From the state’s perspective right-sizing means pressuring small schools to close. Here’s how governance change combined with fiscal pressure works in the real world, not the world of Montpelier education spin. […]
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