Future of Education (H.887) - May 1, 2024

Representative Conlon joined the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday afternoon. The Committee wanted to hear from him about a “formal check in” from the Commission on the Future of Education in January.

Chairman Campion noted that they have been discussing the size of the Commission and why we have a committee instead of a single representative who then goes back and talks to his or her constituents. He noted that the Senate Finance Committee is also concerned and he suspected that Committee would “wield its power” to whittle down the size. Conlon thought the size of the Commission was okay because there will be discrete work groups. These work groups will discuss the Education Fund, unfunded mandates, etc. that are part of the larger picture.

It was noted that Senator Weeks had brought up “multiple times” that there have been over 30 studies around education finance since the current system was put in place. The Committee hoped this one would be effective. The Commission is charged with studying Vermont's public education system and making recommendations to ensure “all students are afforded quality educational opportunities and an efficient, sustainable and equitable system that will enable students to achieve the highest academic outcomes.”

The Commission will make recommendations regarding the role of public schools in both the provision of education and the social and emotional well-being of students, including the legal and financial impact of funding independent schools and other private institutions. How public education in Vermont should be delivered, including wraparound supports, co-location of services and community schools.

The Commission will also explore the efficacy and “potential equity gains” of changing the education funding system, including weighted Educational Opportunity Payments (base funding), and shall recommend a method for setting tax rates to sustain allowable uses of the Education Fund.

NOTE: It’s telling what is missing here in the House version of the bill… cost containment.

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