Career and Technical Education (H.304) - April 10,2024

Senator Weeks presented the bill, S.304, to the House Education Committee on Wednesday morning. To introduce the topic, he showed them a picture of a cruiser.  He said that while he served as a U.S. Naval Captain, 90% of the crew did not have any post-secondary degrees.  They were technicians, electricians, etc.  But many of them did take advantage of CTE and GED programs to better prepare themselves for the future.  Weeks noted he had a great deal of respect for them.  He noted that there was a wide range of ages among the sailors who wanted to get their GET and CTE certificates.

 He noted that an outside consultant had been hired to review our CTE structure and his recommendations are embedded in the bill.  Weeks provided an overview which included:

  • Expanding early exposure to CTE in high schools to including participation in grades 9 and 10.
  • Development of a model career development policy for CTE. Weeks referred to it as a strategic plan.
  • Requirements that CTE be treated equitably and be included in state construction plans and funding.
  • Giving oversight and overall responsibility of CTEs to the Secretary of Education. This action transfers the responsibility of CTEs from the State Board of Education to the Secretary of Education
  • Requiring that the Vermont State University System coordinate with CTEs throughout the state and provide credits in five different degree areas specified in the bill.

Another discussion was the concept of open meeting laws. The Board of Education is subject to Open Meeting Laws, the Agency of Education is not.  But rulemaking at the state level must go before LCAR which does fall within the open meeting laws. 

A member noted that with the rapidly changing technologies that a review of programs every 5 years might be too lengthy a time and she might recommend a shorter period, like 2 or 3 years.

Chairman Conlon noted that this is a very slow-moving process to address CTE issues.  There is nothing in this bill that addresses governance or funding.  He also noted that this bill started out as a very complicated bill with funding in it.  He will be asking for more testimony and hopefully clarify those things that need further clarification. 


Jennifer Deck Samuelson (Chair of the Vt State Board of Education) and Tammy Kolbe (Vice-Chair of the State Board of Education) testified before the Committee.  They talked about things that should be taken into consideration and concerns relating to the transfer of rulemaking authority and CTE oversight to the Secretary of Education and away from the State Board of Education (SBE). 

Samuelson notated that she and the Board were surprised by the shift over to the Administration.  She provided the following overview:


  • 16 V.S.A. Sec. 164(9) and 165 refer to SBE, Not AOE, powers and duties
  • SBE has rulemaking authority over public schools and independent schools
  • Need to ensure alignment across Education Quality Standards (EQS), independent school rules, and CTEs

Access to rulemaking process

  • SBE is the “eyes and ears of the public” according to her.
  • Rulemaking benefits from input from the field.
  • There are benefits to leveraging SBE strengths in this area.

Board expertise

  • Lyle Jepson, former director of Stafford Technical Center (1999-2024)
  • Tom Lovett, former head of St. Johnsbury Academy (2001 – 2020)


  • SBE has track record of productive and collaborative relationship with education constituents.


  • SBE needs to be resourced to do this work effectively (Legislature has never allowed the SBE to have staff).


Both Samuelson and Kolbe talked to the Committee about each of the above bullets and explained in detail the problems of making such a transfer of authority. 


They also talked about the Committees idea of establishing a Task Force to review education structure and governance.  They both said they would support but only if the Task Force concentrated on identifying policies and priorities.  Kolbe said that “we all know what the problems are, and we need a Committee willing to bring the tough discussing forward along with recommendations.”  There is a common interest and if people see the end vision they may be willing to make tradeoffs. They just s a need to know what is coming and what the expectations are as to where we are going as a community and as a state and not as a school district.


Samuelson agreed with Kolbe and said that “we have been in a reactive rather than a proactive stance for years.”  She noted the importance of policy cohesion.  Currently policies are happening on an ad hoc approach, and we need to develop policies around a common vision.


Kolbe noted that one state, among other which should be reviewed, is Maryland.  It’s a new world out there, she argued, and we need folks who can address the problems of education as it exists IN the new world.


Both agreed that the committee could not be viewed as political.  Legislators should participate but not be the controlling voices.  They may also want to consider hiring a facilitator to keep the Task Force focus on the priorities and solutions.  The Task Force should be skewed to look at the big picture but have small subcommittees to get into the details/weeds of an issue. 


More testimony to come about the bill and the idea of established a Task Force.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Donate Volunteer Reduce Property Tax Burden


get updates