The pretext for H.483 was as a response to Carson v. Makin. The bill placed new restrictions around admissions policies and added reporting requirements on Vermont independent schools, restricted out of state options for students in choice districts, and placed a moratorium on the approval of new independent schools.
On Tuesday, Chairman Campion brought up H.483 for the Senate Education Committee to see where members are at with the bill. He noted that the provisions related to discrimination were addressed in the 2200 rule series and “seemed to be working effectively.” He added that people had been asking about the moratorium on new schools receiving approval status. He thought it might make sense to move forward on that piece and then “assess” next year “how many [schools] are in the queue.”Read more
Rock Point is a small independent school with students ranging from “high-flying, college-bound students to kids in the hospital because they can't function or are not getting to school.” They are not competing with public schools or larger schools for students, he noted.
He was there to raise concerns about some of the major provisions in the bill and how they would impact his specialty school. He noted that if they “took any kid without an admissions process,” they would not be able to “protect the space for the kids that are here now” and continue to successfully serve them. The bill would put the school in a difficult place because they would have to deny publicly-tuitioned students that they could help, in order to protect the current students.Read more
On Friday, Oliver Olsen (Former Chair, State Board of Education) joined the Senate Education Committee to speak on H.483 as a parent, former legislator, and community member from Southern Vermont. During his tenure, he oversaw the “significant effort” of updating the rules governing the approval of independent schools.Read more
On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee heard from Heather Bouchey (Interim Secretary, Agency of Education) and Chris Kane (Interim State Director of Special Education, Agency of Education) on H.483. Bouchey stressed the nature of public process and 2200 rulemaking stakeholder engagement. She believed this needed to be “implemented and experienced” as independent schools engage with that newly developed process.Read more
Chairman Campion welcomed Jay Badams (Superintendent, Norwich/Hanover Interstate School District ) to the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, saying they wanted to know about the “whether there is ever any admissions process in our public schools.” He described H.483 as asking for “a kind of open enrollment where public dollars follow kids to whatever school they want.” He added that he thinks that is happening now in a lot of schools.Read more
On Wednesday, Chairman Campion asked Legislative Counsel to share, with the Senate Education Committee, background on Act 49 and Act 173 and how they relate to independent schools. Act 49 was passed in 2017 and created a task force on independent schools. The task force was split and could not find a consensus; instead of offering a comprehensive report, each member issued their own recommendations around enrollment policy, if schools should be required to deliver special education and which categories should be required, and special education required reporting. The legislation also paused rulemaking until the legislature could act on these issues.Read more
Chairman Campion asked Legislative Counsel to walk the Senate Education Committee through H.483 on Thursday at a high level. During the walk-through, Senator Hashim questioned why therapeutic schools were excluded from the bill. Legislative counsel noted that those schools were highly specialized and may not be able to meet the requirements in the bill. The intent of this bill is to address general education independent schools who receive public tuition.Read more
Representative Conlon spoke for the bill on on the House Floor Wednesday on behalf of the House Education Committee. He called it a “long and thoughtful bill drafting process” that focused on “core values that should be attached to every dollar spent on public education.” He voiced concern that the town tuitioning program had “strayed” from its original purpose and that it was hard to imagine that the founders of the system intended their dollars to go across oceans. This was the justification for the 25-mile radius in his mind.Read more