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 board’s proposed budget, includes two statements that appear to unduly influence the outcome. The required reading of that Australian ballot article from Title 16, § 563. “Powers of school boards; form of vote,” is as follows:
“Article #1 (School Budget): Shall the voters of the school district approve the school board to expend $ ______, which is the amount the school board has determined to be necessary for the ensuing fiscal year? It is estimatedthatthisproposedbudget, if approved, will result in education spending of $______ per equalized pupil. This projected spending per equalized pupil is ______ % higher/lower than spending for the current year.
At any rate, are other school boards also feeling the pressure of legislative tampering as they attempt get budgets passed?
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