The Vermont School Boards Association exists to achieve Vermont’s vision for public education by supporting local boards to serve as effective trustees for education on behalf of their communities, and by providing a strong collective voice in the development and implementation of public education policy.
December 15, 2014 After 8 months of intense of intense lead-up to the legislative session, specific ideas are beginning to take form relative to education cost and opportunity. On Friday, the special committee created by House Speaker Shap Smith issued its recommendations to the Speaker.
These proposals were discussed at a forum sponsored last Thursday evening by VT Digger. Although no one is saying they include THE ANSWER, the proposals will certainly be part of the debate.
The VSBA Board is spending time absorbing the broad array of proposals that are emerging and will be organizing its own ideas over the coming several weeks.
In the midst of all of this, we urge boards to stay focused on the challenges of assuring a broad array of opportunities for students at a reasonable cost per student. Feel free to call the VSBA if you want to explore resources for addressing these challenging issues.
November 26, 2014 We received a notice from the Agencies of Education and Human Services notifying board members and superintendents of “transition relief for the 2015-2016 school year” from the prekindergarten enrollment requirements set forth in Section 5 of Act 166 of 2014. The notice outlines the fact that the passage of the bill on May 10, 2014 for implementation on July 1, 2015 did not allow adequate time for rule-making and guidance to school districts before budgeting must be completed for next school year. In fact, the time frame would require that towns vote on budgets next March prior to the completion of formal rule-making. This “transition relief” will provide additional time for the adoption of administrative rules consistent with the effective implementation of the law. What it means is that for the upcoming school year, the entitlement to pre-K will not go into effect. It appears from the notice that districts desiring to proceed by choice may do so.
This notice is a big relief to districts who have not had clear guidance on the implementation of the law and who have been under tremendous budgetary pressure. It does not, however, alter the long-term requirements of the law. All districts must continue to prepare for Pre-K for the 2016-17 school year. It will be good to have final rules and clear guidance when building the budget for implementation on July 1, 2016.
Pre-K is an important part of our public school program. Over 80% of Vermont school districts already provide some level of Pre-K. The passage of Act 166 has been a milestone in that it is designed to provide equal access to all children.
October 27, 2014 The VSBA has just released a report detailing the financial impact of health care reform on Vermont’s school districts. This issue is the perfect nexus between two of our state’s most pressing policy issues—the implementation of health care reform and rising property tax rates.
The VSBA commissioned the study in order to provide its members with the most accurate information about the current cost of health care and the potential savings that could be achieved if school district employees’ health care benefits were more closely aligned with the benefits available to all other Vermonters.
Between September 15 and October 15, the VSBA convened six regional meetings which attracted more than 600 participants. The key focus of the meetings was “Education Equity, Opportunity, and Cost”. The sessions featured a showing of the video data presentation Situational Analysis of Public Education 2014, followed by an in-depth presentation by Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe. Attendees then engaged in discussion of two of our biggest challenges—addressing our rising cost per pupil which is driven largely by staff to student ratios and creating more equal opportunity across districts/supervisory unions. A summary of key themes and the full list of items generated at each meeting can also be found on the VSBA website.
The ideas generated are general in nature. We urge boards to act on them locally/regionally as they assess their particular current circumstances. We also welcome any ideas you may have on statewide policy changes or service improvements which can help districts take needed action.
Vermont’s school boards are passionate about every child receiving an exceptional education. We know that the world is changing and that technology has opened dramatic new opportunities to enhance learning for our students.
For the past several months, we have spoken at regional meetings and at our annual conference about the need to engage every child in education and prepare them for success in this fast-changing world. By most measures, Vermont has a very good education system compared to other states. At the same time, we know that there are too many students who do not engage in their education. We know that too few students go on to higher education and fewer still complete a degree. We know we have much to do to better prepare our students for the new economy that calls for highly skilled graduates who are proficient in literacy, science, math, critical thinking, and creativity.
Moving education forward will require change on many levels—statewide leadership as evidenced by the Governor in his recent inaugural address, sound policy from the State Board, effective support from the new Agency, and most importantly, local implementation. Genuine, sustainable change comes community-by-community, school-by-school, through the creative efforts of teachers, through the education leadership of superintendents and principals, and through the commitment and focus of school boards. Vermont’s school boards are catalysts for change and create a climate that allows innovation to flourish among educators. We must be committed to moving education forward.
Over the course of the fall, the Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Superintendents Association have put together a joint Agenda for Public Education. The comprehensive proposal, presented by board members and superintendents to a joint press conference on January 15, is available on this webpage. It focuses on how we engage every child in a world-class education. Specific proposals are being made in the areas of:
To learn more about the Agenda for a World-Class Education System, please review the following documents:
VSBA & VSA Press Release
VSBA & VSA Agenda for a World-Class Education System
Succinct Summary of Agenda Proposals
The Essential Work of Vermont School Boards book is 134 pages. It is revised every three years. The current version was created in 2012. The next will be released in 2015. The price of the book is $15 plus $5 (each) shipping. The books are mailed with invoice. If you are a current board member the invoice will be mailed to your school district.ORDER FORM
The Vermont Education Lawbook is released annually in early December. Vermont School Boards Association holds a standing order list for the lawbook. If you are placed on the list you will receive a postcard in July/August of the release year to confirm your order.
All books are shipped with an invoice with net 30 terms of payment.
Would you like to be placed on the lawbook standing order list - no charge. We would mail you a postcard in August to verify an order for the upcoming year.
Also, please consider viewing the Essential Work of Vermont School Boards streaming videos or the Essential Work of Vermont School Boards resource book among the many other pages found in this website. Good luck!