Education Spending Update - March 14, 2024

Nicole Lee (Director of Education Finance, Agency of Education) began the House Ways & Means hearing on Thursday with a presentation of recent Education Fund projections following school budget defeats. They have received preliminary redrafted budgets from 18 districts (out of 30 that were defeated) that represent a weighted average increase of 12.17%. These 18 budgets represent just over a quarter of all students in the state, but notably don’t include Milton or Washington Central.

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Class Size Policy - March 14, 2024

The House Education Committee heard a literature review on Thursday afternoon from Anne Bordonaro (Interim Deputy Secretary, Agency of Education) regarding class size impact on education quality. She highlighted their key takeaways:

  • VT has very small class sizes (relative to other states and to our own maximums in SB rule which are 20 for K-3 and 25 for 4-12).
  • Per the research on class size, there is room for class size increases without harming student achievement.
  • Our very small class sizes may have negative impacts beyond cost.
  • If the Leg wishes to contain personnel-related educational costs, they may wish to look at staff: student ratios, not just teacher: student ratios.
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Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - March 12-13, 2024

Early in the week the Department of Labor (VDOL) presented numerous recommended changes to the language in H.707.  Most of the changes indicated that VDOL would like to see more discussion and significant review before moving forward.  The primary discussion is about the creation of a separate office reporting to the Governor rather than located within VDOL.  The Commissioner later in the week stated that the Governor is not interested in creating a new office.  There was discussion that with the right person in the job as Executive Director it might not matter where the position resided as long as the individual was capable of executing the job description as envisioned by the House Commerce Committee.

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Miscellaneous Education Bill - March 13, 2024

Legislative Counsel provided a walk-through of the House Education Committee's v3.1 of the draft bill on Wednesday morning. There were a number of minor changes, but section 8 of the bill would re-introduce a uniform chart of accounts that school districts and supervisory unions will be required to use to provide reporting data to the Agency of Education around budgets and other financial information.

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Tax Changes - March 13, 2024

When the House Ways & Means Committee met on Wednesday Morning, Chairwoman Kornheiser revealed that they moved some items that were “hanging around” into their miscellaneous tax bill. Notably, this included a meals and rooms tax surcharge on short-term rentals.

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Career and Technical Education (S.304) - March 13, 2024

Heather Bouchey (Interim Secretary, Agency of Education) appeared before Senate Education to discuss S.304 – CTE Opportunities for Grades Six through Ten.  Consensus on the bill could not be reached by all interested parties in Senate Education CommitteeChairman Campion asked that Bouchey return with a consensus bill that parties could all agree on so the bill could be voted on and passed out before cross-over. 

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Cooperative Education Services (H.630) - March 12, 2024

The House Education Committee reviewed a bill, H.630, on Tuesday that would allow for cooperative education services to be provided by a group of school districts. These services would be intended to provide the “least restrictive environment” for students that require a “higher level of care.” Most of the students who would receive these services have mental or behavioral issues that are disruptive in the normal school environment. Today many of these students have 1-on-1 para-educators which does not provide the necessary level of therapy and contributes to classroom disruption and high staffing ratios.

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Changes to Clean Heat Standard (S.306) - March 12, 2024

On Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee began taking testimony from the Public Utilities Commission, department of Public Service, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation beating (very carefully) around the bush regarding their worries about the June 1 statutory date to hire a Default Delivery Agent for Act 18 (the Clean Heat Standard). At first it was comments like “we’re just sharing others’ concerns” or “we’re neutral on the date, but….” However, by the end of the conversation the language had become “It’s unrealistic” and “it’s not going to work.”

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Education Spending Update - March 12, 2024

On Tuesday afternoon Nichole Lee (Director of Education Finance, Agency of Education) joined the House Ways & Means Committee to review updates from the Town Meeting Day votes on school budgets. Out of 119 budgets, 30 failed, 19 were delayed, and 8 have been re-warned.

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Career and Technical Education (S.304) - Feb 27 - Mar 1, 2024

The Senate Education Committee spent most of the week reviewing S.304 which overhauls the state’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) system.

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