Rep. Sibilia: Update December 15th

Today the final version of the Weighting Task Force Implementation Plan was due to the legislature and presumably has been transmitted to the House and Senate Education and Taxing Committees. A draft version was approved last week unanimously. The draft version included the results of a lot of good work from House and Senate members on the Task Force, the Scott Administration and legislative staff including tightened up weights and recommendations on small schools grants.

The draft report’s “cost equity” proposal considered increased student need as “extra” cost and reduced the taxing capacity of those districts, replacing that taxing capacity with a state grant that has to be recalculated every year.

The report also included two proposals that have been largely panned by dozens of education stakeholders, witnesses and public commentary – removing English Language Learners (ELL) from the equity calculation and, rather then correcting the weights, creating a state mandated reverse foundation formula for students in poverty, rural districts and middle and high school grade levels while maintaining local control and flexible statewide funding levels for districts without increased student need.

Here is an article about the passage of the draft report Two for the money: Task force offers pair of school spending formula options and a statement I issued today with one of my colleagues from the Burlington Delegation Representatives Sibilia and Colburn statement on the recommendations of the Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report.

Many thanks to our local boards throughout the Valley and Southern Vermont that are working so hard to correct this 20 year injustice to our students, communities and taxpayers. We have made a lot of progress, and the work will continue this year in the legislative session beginning January.

Are you new to the Valley and wondering what this is all about? Here is an article I wrote almost two years ago which explains how we got here. The title is a quote from the Secretary of Education: A significant equity concern in Vermont’s current education funding system.

Some sobering statistics about our healthcare capacity below. Most hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. Vermont continues to lead the nation in vaccinations. Please do your part to protect our healthcare system and get boosted and mask up when you are indoors with groups of people.

I hope to see folks tomorrow night when I will virtually join folks at the Wardsboro Library and on Saturday when I host office hours online – details below!


Data from December 15th U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT ADDRESSES THE SUMMIT FOR DEMOCRACY

At the invitation of President Joe Biden, Governor Phil Scott was one of two U.S. governors to address the Summit for Democracy. The virtual Summit, brought together hundreds of world leaders, heads of state and other advocates for democracy and human rights, at a critical time for democracies around the world, as authoritarianism is on the rise across the globe.

Governor Scott emphasized that, in a well-functioning democracy, there needs to be healthy debates, give and take, and that no one person or one party has all the answers.

“I want to thank the President for convening this critical Summit and for inviting me to speak,” said Governor Scott. “Democracy is only as strong as our commitment to it, and we can’t let our guard down in the face of threats to it, whether at home and abroad.”

You can watch the Governor’s address by clicking here.


https://sos.vermont.gov/apportionment-board/map-drafts/

The Legislative Reapportionment Board has finished their work and made their recommendation to the legislature on how to reapportion legislative districts with the new census numbers. The committee elected to recommend only single member districts. While our current House district is a single member district, our two Senate districts are two member districts. These recommendations will now go to the House and Senate Government Operations Committees for a new round of scrutiny and suggestions. The towns in our district should definitely weigh in with the House and Senate Committees, and please keep me in the loop so I can advocate for your town.

Recommendations for the towns in our House District were to split the current House district into five separate districts:

Readsboro and Searsburg with Woodford and eastern Bennington in Bennington 5 District,
Stamford with Pownal in Bennington-5 and
Dover and Wardsboro in the new Windham 7 district with Jamaica and Windham.
All of Whitingham to be rejoined and remain in Windham 3 with Wilmington and Halifax.
Somerset to remain in Windham – Bennington District with Landgrove, Peru, Winhall, Londonderry, Windham and Stratton

Single member Senate District recommendations for the towns in our House District:
Readsboro, Stamford and Searsburg would stay in the Bennington District.
Dover and Wardsboro would move into a new massive Bennington – Windham mountain district with 18 towns stretching from Peru to Halifax and Shaftsbury to Newfane. Sounds like it could be an exciting Town Meeting Schedule!


GOVERNOR SCOTT ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF VERMONT HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM TO REHABILITATE HOUSING STOCK

$5 million available to bring new housing units online by rehabilitating current housing stock.

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, along with statewide partners have launched the Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) designed to bring housing units back online by investing in existing, but under-utilized structures. VHIP builds upon past rental rehabilitation pilot programs that used modest public investment to revitalize housing in Vermont’s downtown areas, while helping renters and property owners who are most in need of assistance.

The program, funded using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, will invest a total of $5 million into the state’s aging housing stock. VHIP will provide grants of up to $30,000 per unit with a 20% funding match required to bring code non-compliant units back into habitability. This round of grants is dedicated to units serving renters who are exiting homelessness.

VHIP partners include Champlain Housing Trust, Rural Edge, Downstreet Housing and Community Development, Windham and Windsor Housing Trust, and Neighborworks of Western Vermont. 

For more information, click here.


 

Many thanks to the Wardsboro and Dover Public Libraries who have agreed to allow me to host monthly public office hours at the Wardsboro library on the 3rd Thursdays from 6-7 pm next on December 16th where I will join virtually and others may as well at: us02web.zoom.us/j/734376857?pwd=Z1BmNmlwcWxJMWxVZTFaZE96MmlQQT09
Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089 and then at the Dover Free library on the 3rd Tuesdays from 6-7 pm and next on December 21st.

I also host monthly online office hours on the 3rd Saturday of the month from 11-noon next happening on December 18th – you can join this online meeting here or by calling +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089.

As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com


Kind regards, 


Rep. Laura Sibilia Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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