Back in September I noted that the State Board of Education had elected to begin looking at the rules allowing independent and private schools to access public dollars:
“With regard to the various levels of school choice that currently exist in the Valley, Section 4 of Act 46 specifically states that compliant districts cannot be forced to give up their existing school choice and that nothing in the Act is intended to take away school choice. It is important to note that a school district’s voters still have the ability to decide to change or alter school choice. The State Board of Education has elected to begin looking at the existing rules which allow independent and private schools to access public dollars. The Vermont School Boards Association, of which I am a board member, has testified that independent schools should be required to be held to a number of the same standards as public schools. A change in the rules of how independent/private schools can access public funding would require public meetings. To monitor this discussion, watch meetings, read materials and minutes presented at meetings go to http://education.vermont.gov/state-board”
The SBE is now considering a rule which would require independent and private schools to meet ALL
of the requirements of public schools. This is a dramatic change, using a dramatic method in a period of massive system change in our education governance via Act 46.
Regions which have a larger number of districts with school choice have been slow to implement Act 46. In particular, many of the more rural and mountainous regions of Southern Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom have not yet voted on new governance changes, despite continual compliance efforts since Act 46 implementation. The timing of this far reaching rule change is hard to understand given Act 46 specifically providing communities that have school choice the option to keep it. Changing the game on communities working to implement this sweeping legislation is unacceptable. Doing so without having any sense of the impacts on kids is inexcusable.
Rep. Oliver Olsen of Londonderry has sent a formal request to the state board and the rules committee seeking a delay in the rule making process until a number of impact analysis can be undertaken. I wholeheartedly support this request.
If this rule making continues forward, public hearings will be required prior to adoption of the new rules. I will keep you apprised of this hearing or hearings and ask that you please be prepared to attend and testify.
I am incredibly proud of the work our communities are doing to assess if there are more opportunities for their kids by complying with Act 46. This action by the state board should not deter our communities from completing the work called for in Act 46.
Please remember that the Agency of Education (NOT the State Board) will be at Twin Valley Middle High School in Whitingham at 5:30 pm on Thursday November 3rd to explain to the communities the resources available to help with the Act 46 process and getting the WSWSU Articles of Agreement accepted.
As always, if you need help or assistance don’t hesitate to call me at 384-0233 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.