On January 28, 2015

Shumlin has tough words for schools, public safety leaders

By Cristina Kumka

RUTLAND – Attendees of a legislative luncheon held at the Southside Steakhouse in Rutland Monday Jan. 26 were met with harsh words from Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on how publicly-funded education and police dispatch should be reformed.

Coming off a narrow November election, Shumlin told the 135-person crowd of local and state politicians, lawmakers, planning officials and public utility employees, “What I got from the last election was a pretty clear message… That we’ve got to do more to lift incomes, grow jobs and lift prosperity for all Vermonters.”

Touting the state’s green energy future as promising, Shumlin quickly shifted gears to education – and how he plans to penalize small schools for not abiding by state rules he plans to enforce.

“Get rid of the small schools grants and get rid of phantom students, get rid of teacher strikes. We have failed as a state to partner with local school boards and communities,” Shumlin said.

“If we continue to pretend that we can keep spending the way we are, and that property tax payers are just gonna sit back and pay it, I say we are living in la la land and there’s gonna be much more extreme proposals ahead that will hurt kids and hurt schools.”

Shumlin said he wants to change the formulas that have kept teachers on the job in the wake of a declining student population, bringing Vermont the title of smallest student to teacher ratio at 4.7 students for every teacher.

But the state continues to have the highest per pupil spending and, Shumlin said, diverse educational options are few and far between.

He said he envisions schools having to report to a state assessment team and, if they don’t abide by spending threshholds and educational progress, further action will have to be taken.

“We will make you pay more for bad decisions or will actually be able to close or consolidate a school,” Shumlin said Monday.

He also addressed a plan in his state budget that would merge Rutland police dispatch services with Rockingham, slashing at least 30 well-paying jobs.

Rutland Senator Kevin Mullin asked Shumlin, in the wake of a severe recent loss of jobs in Rutland, from Rutland Plywood, JC Penney and other closures, to spare that move.

Shumlin asked Mullin to present a different idea.

“On the PSAP [public safety answering point], my budget proposal is balanced,” Shumlin said. “We made $15 million in cuts to structural changes to state government. The PSAP  proposal is one of those. I’m not suggesting my plan is perfect. My only plea is if you have a better way of doing it, just make sure it saves the same amount of money as my proposal.”

Cristina Kumka is a correspondent for The Mountain Times, Cristina_kumka@yahoo.com.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Quechee hot air balloon festival lifts off

June 12, 2024
Hartford Area Chamber Prepares for Balloon Festival Friday, June 14 at 3 p.m. to Sunday, June 16 at 6 a.m. ­—QUECHEE —The Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft and Music Festival, Village Green, Quechee, the longest running hot air balloon festival in New England, will celebrate its 44th anniversary in 2024 when thousands are expected to…

Otter Valley, Barstow and Hartland school districts pass budgets after multiple attempts

June 12, 2024
Slate Valley to vote for fifth time, Tuesday June 18 By Polly Mikula Editor's note: The story first published as "Many area school districts are still working to pass budgets" has been updated to reflect the passage of school bonds June 11 and 12 for Barstow, Otter Valley and Hartland. While voters in at least…

Gov. Scott vetoes property tax bill, unsettling next year’s ed funding

June 12, 2024
By Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the annual property tax bill on Thursday, setting up a veto session showdown on a piece of legislation that must pass for schools to be funded as usual.  “We must provide property tax relief now. This can’t wait for another study before implementing cost containment strategies,” Scott said in…

Full of hot air

June 12, 2024
This weekend, June 14-16, the skies over the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire will be filled with hot air balloons during the longest running hot air balloon festival in New England. See page 14  for a full schedule of events for the weekend.