Education Update from VISA

Key bills remain unresolved, and AOE announces new State Director of Special Education.

Thanks to our friends at VISA for this updated information. 

Key Bills Remain Unresolved as Adjournment Nears
Legislative progress on three bills of interest to independent schools remains unresolved as the planned
May 18 adjournment of the first half of the legislative biennium approaches. The bills include the statewide water testing bill, the Act 173 rulemaking delay bill, and the paid family leave bill.

  • Water Testing
    Legislators have been appointed to a conference committee charged with resolving differing versions of the bill requiring testing and remediation of lead contamination in drinking water sources at every school and child care center in the state. The Senate and House have disagreed on the minimum allowable amount of lead in drinking water and on the extent to which the state will fund the costs of testing and remediation. VISA and other education stakeholders have lobbied for full funding.
  • Act 173 Delay
    An agreement on delaying the act 173 rulemaking and implementation of statewide special education reforms is caught in a House vs. Senate controversy. After members of a conference committee disagreed sharply on the bill to delay some of the final Act 46 school district mergers, the Senate sought some leverage by appending the merger bill to the delay bill. The House has not reacted positively. As of the end of last week, no formal negotiation had occurred. The proposed delay is strongly endorsed by the Census-Based Funding Advisory Group, a legislatively-created stakeholders group that includes VISA and the Council of Independent Schools.
  • Paid Family Leave
    A mandatory paid family leave bill has been a House leadership priority from the beginning of the 2018 session, opposed by the Governor’s office and the state’s business community including the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The points of contention are whether every business not now providing paid leave should be required to participate and make a payroll tax contribution to fund the program or whether as the Governor prefers, the program should be voluntary and perhaps operated jointly with the State of New Hampshire.

AOE Names New State Special Ed Director
Dr. Jacqueline Kelleher will join the Agency of Education as the new State Director of Special Education, starting May 26. With over 20 years of experience in special ed, Kelleher has worked as a classroom teacher and Learning Strategies Coordinator in Connecticut; was heavily involved with federal performance indicators, IDEA compliance, and field-based technical assistance while working for Connecticut’s Bureau of Special Education; served as a Coordinator for the Center of Excellence on Autism at Southern Connecticut State University; and served on the State Advisory Council on Special Education for both Connecticut and New Hampshire. AOE manager Chris Case says he hopes for Kelleher to meet the field through regional meetings, SEAC and VCSEA meetings, and other events.

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