On March 14, 2018

School boards appeal to Legislature regarding funding bill

In school budgets presented to voters on Town Meeting Day, school boards and administrators rose to the challenge of keeping spending growth below the state’s target of 2.5 percent. FY 2019 statewide education spending growth is estimated at 1.5 percent, with education spending per equalized pupil coming in at under 1 percent.

Ninety-six percent of school budgets were approved by voters in 142 school districts. With 140 districts reporting results, 135 district budgets passed, according to a news release March 7.

“Since the conclusion of the 2018 legislative session, our Associations have expressed an interest in working collaboratively with our members, the General Assembly and the Governor to take responsible steps to address FY 2019 fiscal concerns while preserving a strong public education system,” wrote Kerri Lamb, director of operations for the Vermont School Boards Association, in a statement.

“The responsible actions of school officials were clearly recognized by overwhelming voter support of school budgets this year,” Lamb wrote.

“However, the House Ways and Means Committee recently approved a bill that, if enacted, would alter the funding formula for FY 2019, potentially undermining the hard work of local officials whose proposed budgets were approved by large margins,” Lamb continued. “Our Associations call upon the General Assembly to acknowledge the work of school boards and administrators – who clearly have the support of their communities – and take no action to affect the education funding formula or school district budgets for FY 2019,” she said.

According to reporting by VTDigger, prompted by a $50 million deficit in the K-12 education fund, the revised education funding bill would eliminate income sensitivity and introduce a school income tax for all Vermont earners. As presented, the bill would lower property tax rates and shift sales tax revenues to the education fund. A school income tax would be based on adjusted gross income for all residents earning over $47,000.

The proposal is based on projected education fund rates set for FY2019, VTDigger reported.

“Vermont’s education system depends on a partnership between state and local officials,” said Nicole Mace, executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association.

Jeff Francis, executive director for the Vermont Superintendents Association, also echoed this plea. “Local school officials have risen to the occasion in recent years in the areas of both cost containment and expanding opportunity. Their response to systems improvement through Act 46 is noteworthy. The General Assembly and Administration should recognize the good work being done locally as they consider all new proposals for laws and initiatives.”

The five districts that failed to pass their budgets include Alburgh, Cabot, Fletcher, Green Mountain Unified (Chester), and North Hero.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Back to the State House, June 17

June 5, 2024
The full Legislature will return to Montpelier on June 17 to take up any bills the governor has vetoed. Leaders will be deciding in the next few weeks which of those vetoed they will attempt to override, (two thirds required for an override), which will be rewritten to address some of Scott’s objections. The rest…

Former Democratic lawmaker John Rodgers to run for lieutenant governor as a Republican

May 29, 2024
By Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger John Rodgers, a former Vermont House and Senate Democrat from Glover, is running for lieutenant governor as a Republican.  “I don’t feel like I left the party. I feel like the party left me,” Rodgers said in an interview Friday, describing himself as a moderate. “I feel closer to Phil Scott than I…

Gov. Scott signs budget, vetoes renewable energy standard bill

May 29, 2024
On Thursday, May 23, Governor Phil Scott, as expected, signed the budget bill into law H.833, while vetoing H.289, An Act Relating to the Renewable Energy Standard.  Scott has long voiced his opposition to the renewable energy bill because of the cost and complexity in how the law could be carried out and the ultimate cost…

Gov. Scott vetoes bill that would’ve restricted bee-killing pesticide

May 22, 2024
Staff report On Monday, May 20, World Bee Day, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation meant to protect bees and other pollinators from a widely-used neuorotoxic pesticide. The bill (H.706) would  eliminate most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) in Vermont, which have been associated with alarming losses of managed and wild bee populations. Neonic insecticides are used on…