Washington Central Supervisory Union’s six school boards are in for a struggle with the Agency of Education over whether they will be forced to merge their boards and budget.
Here’s a proposal to rein in costs, reinstate some measure of local control and inject accountability into the process: Have the Legislature set a uniform per-pupil spending level, but allow local school boards full rein over how to best spend the money, free from state-level interference.
The ruling elite of all parties in Vermont have doubled down on this approach with the coercive and tyrannical Act 46. The political promises of reduced costs, lower taxes, equality of education and increased opportunities were false. The exact opposite result is happening. The next phase of Act 46 will be Gov. Scott’s school closing commission. This for me is unacceptable.
The Agency of Education has recommended 18 consolidations for school districts that haven’t yet merged in accordance with Act 46. But of 43 districts or groups of districts that filed “Section 9” proposals for alternative governance structures, 22 shouldn’t have to merge, according to a report released Friday.
Vermont’s education funding law Act 60/68 needs to be revisited and repealed. It has exacerbated the increase in taxes by creating a fund that is too often subject to raids by duplicitous politicians. Local control, including education financing, could be returned to the local citizenry, where it rightfully belongs.
With Vermont set to pay $31 million in incentives for districts that agreed to merge under the state’s education consolidation law, critics of Act 46 say the payouts are unfair and hurt poor rural areas.
“If we keep it open as a public school, the discussion will not end, we will be at this again and again. … (But) if we turn Black River into an independent school, its destiny is in the hands of the community, not the Vermont Agency of Education.”
Education leaders met at the Capitol Plaza Hotel on Wednesday to discuss public education “that works for all children.” Speakers at the conference addressed equity, special needs and Act 46.
“If I fail with this lawsuit there will be no local control of schools in Vermont. This is a last stand. This is it.”
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns is asking lawmakers to review Act 46 to hold the education governance law accountable to its promises.
Another proposed district merger has failed, and now a handful of schools in Windsor County face an uncertain future as the next Act 46 deadline approaches.