The General Assembly was on Town Meeting break during the first week of March. While there is no legislative activity to report, we are providing information on the status of the implementation of the equalized pupil weighting changes outlined in the Pupil Weighting Factors Report dated December 24, 2019.
The Senate Finance Committee and Senate Education Committee held a joint meeting on February 23rd to consider S.13, a bill which requires the Agency of Education to develop a plan to implement the equalized pupil weighting changes outlined in the Pupil Weighting Factors Report.
Agency of Education Secretary Dan French testified that he does not believe the Agency of Education has the capacity or expertise to develop such an implementation plan. He recommended that the General Assembly should commission an outside entity to develop and propose an implementation plan for its review.
A group of school board members from around the state have joined together, forming The Coalition for Equity in Education. The Coalition is composed of about 34 school board members from 22 school districts across the state and they are advocating for implementation of the recommendations of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report during this legislative session. Alex Yin, whose testimony is linked in the paragraph above, is a Coalition member. The link to The Coalition provides more information for those who are interested in learning more or joining the Coalition. The Coalition’s position on implementation of the recommendations in the Report is consistent with VSBA Resolutions regarding equity.
VSBA Resolutions I.I and II.A relate to ensuring equity in education. To determine an advocacy position more specific to the Pupil Weighting Factors Report, the VSBA Board voted and approved two motions at the March, 2020 meeting related to the Report:
1. ”VSBA fully supports the findings as presented in the weighting study.”
2. “VSBA requests the legislature to thoughtfully and expeditiously establish an implementation plan in pursuit of equity of outcomes for all students and one that is designed to build capacity within our systems to absorb the changes in funding due to changes in weights.”
Due to lack of progress on motion #2 in 2020, the VSBA advocated for the establishment in the last biennium (2019-2020) of a Working Group to address implementation of the Report’s recommendations with a set timeline for the creation of the Working Group product by sending a letter to committee chairs. Since a Working Group was not established in the last biennium, the VSBA’s position on the Report continues to be represented by the motions from March of 2020: support for the findings of the Report and a thoughtful and expeditious implementation plan in pursuit of equity of outcomes for all students.
We will continue to keep you informed about the General Assembly’s approach to implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report in upcoming blogs.