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 other is give up operating a school.”
But what about having the best of both worlds, with a district both operating a school and offering tuition? Under Section 822 of Title 16 of state law, a school district can do one or the other, but not both.[…]
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