On September 1, 2021

Barstow School Board to consider limiting school choice to only three public options

By Ethan Weinstein

The Barstow School Board, home to students from Mendon and Chittenden, will discuss on Sept. 9 whether to limit students’ funded high school choices to only three area public schools.

The move comes in the wake of two court cases earlier this year, which ruled it unconstitutional for towns to prevent students from using town tuition vouchers to attend religious schools. Vermont had for decades prevented taxpayers from funding religious school tuition.

Currently 86% of Barstow Memorial School graduates attend Rutland High School, Otter Valley High School, or Proctor High School. If voters opt to restrict school choice, Barstow students would have to choose one of these three public schools for high school or pay tuition out of pocket.

Such a vote would prevent Barstow graduates from using tax dollars to attend schools such as Killington Mountain School, Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland — a Catholic school — and Mill River Union High School, in North Clarendon.

The Chittenden and Mendon residents organizing the discussion, who are members of the school board, take issue with private schools’ denying enrollment to students based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Some private schools also do not provide special education, whereas public schools are required to provide education for all area students including those with special needs.

It is unclear when a vote regarding school choice could take place.

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