Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Vt. to vote next week on massive school merger

"In Vermont, voters will decide next week whether to okay the largest public school reorganization in 125 years," PBS NewsHour reports. "A new ballot measure would merge smaller schools and do away with perks that let parents use tax dollars to send their kids to private schools, even in Canada. Opposition is fierce, but advocates say it’ll cut costs and strengthen public schools." John Tulenko of Education Week reported the story in cooperation with PBS.

"Vermont is a collection of small towns, many with just one or two schools, and where people feel they have a say in their children's education," Tulenko reports. But the schools are among the smallest in the country, so many offer few special classes or programs. A new state law would cut the number of districts by half. Towns approving merger on June 7would get state tax incentives, and those rejecting it would lose part of their state funding.

House Speaker Shap Smith told Tulenko that part of his motive for pushing the law was relief from high property taxes, which support one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the nation. Jay Nicholas, superintendent of five districts (the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union) in northern Vermont, said "We have too many adults for the number of kids we have. That's why we have the most expensive education system in the United States."

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