(Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories looking at how the issue of school choice is complicating the push for districts to merge.)
Google “choice debate,” and the results pertain to two controversies: whether women should be able to choose abortion, and whether students and their parents should be able to choose which public school to attend. Add “Vermont” to the search term, and it yields just one issue: school choice, known in Green Mountain State vernacular as tuitioning.
As the school district merger timeline in Act 46 bears down on communities, a narrower school choice issue is emerging and proving as divisive as the broader question.
Because the state doesn’t allow school districts that pay tuition for students to attend school elsewhere to partner up with those that operate schools, some districts feel they have no option but to give up choice. Lawmakers have drawn up legislation to address the issue.
More than a dozen bills on the subject of choice await action by the House Education Committee. Some would eliminate tuitioning in every school district, and some would expand it to every student in the state. Some would let operating and tuitioning districts merge, and some would let choice districts merge even though they have choice for different grade levels.
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