top of page

Week 3: 1/17-1/21/22

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Link to Audio Recording (podcast)

Open Meeting Law and Elections Procedures for Annual Meetings

S.222 (Act 78) implements several temporary provisions of the Open Meeting Law and was signed by the Governor last week. This Act authorizes a meeting of a public body to be held fully remotely without needing to designate a physical meeting location and without requiring staff to be physically present at a location.

If a school board chooses to meet remotely, it must use technology that permits public attendance through electronic or other means and allows public access by telephone. The board must also post information that enables the public to directly access and participate in the meeting and include it in the meeting’s agenda.

School boards that meet remotely under these provisions must record their meetings, unless unusual circumstances make it impossible to do so. In the event of a staffing shortage due to COVID-19, a school board may extend the time limit for the posting of minutes to not more than 10 days from the date of the meeting. School boards may post meeting agendas or notices of a special meeting in two designated electronic locations in lieu of the physical designated public places in the municipality, or in a combination of a designated electronic location and a designated public place. Notices and agendas must be posted in or near the municipal clerk’s office and must be provided to the newspapers of general circulation for the municipality.

The temporary provisions of Act 78 will expire on January 15, 2023.

S.223 (Act 79) was signed by the Governor on January 18, 2022. This Act temporarily suspends the signature requirement for candidates wishing to place their names on the Town Meeting ballot, and also authorizes the legislative body of a school district to vote to not commingle the ballots of member municipalities for the 2022 annual district meeting.

Governor’s FY 2023 Budget Address

On Tuesday, January 18, Governor Scott delivered his budget address that outlined a $7.7 billion budget proposal to “make the most of this historic moment.” The Governor was clear that he planned to prioritize workforce development with this budget. To that end, the Governor and his Administration are proposing a suite of initiatives to support enrollment, outcomes, infrastructure, and funding to elevate career technical education (CTE) centers and workforce development programming in our PK – 12 education system. These include:

  • Dedicating half (approximately $45 million) of the forecasted $90 million Education Fund surplus to tangible infrastructure in the PK – 12 education system that contributes to workforce development programs;

  • Funding and governance changes to CTE that are designed to enhance the delivery of education experiences to both high school students and CTE students while addressing the current competitive nature of funding CTE programs;

  • Through the FY22 Budget Adjustment, directing $1.5 million Education Fund allocation for CTE centers to offset pandemic-related costs that LEAs received federal funds to cover;

  • Dedicating $1.4 million of federal GEER II funds to a create a recruitment campaign for CTE enrollment that will target multiple populations including early exposure for middle school students, engagement with parents of high school students as well as high schoolers themselves to encourage enrollment, and encouraging adult learners to grow their skills in high need occupations. In addition to broad based promotion, there will be an emphasis on health care and the trades. The Agency of Education will contract this campaign out.

  • Dedicating the remaining $500,000 of GEER II funds to launch two to three electric transportation (aviation and vehicles) pilot grant programs in CTEs across the state;

  • Allowing students to attend a state-designated virtual high school as their sending school for academics, which will give students more time for work-based learning and CTE courses;

  • Supporting authorizing language in the FY22 budget adjustment for Vermont Technical College to continue their work to deploy their courses in regional CTE centers, making these programs more accessible; and

  • Integrating work-based learning coordinators and CTE directors into a pilot program that creates 6 regional workforce coordinators, who will help better connect students and job seekers with employers, training and all the important programs we have available today but that can be difficult to access.

The Administration’s plan represents a nearly $50 million investment in career technical education and workforce development activities delivered through our schools.

New Covid-19 Guidelines for Schools

On January 13, the Agency of Education updated its guidance to schools in order to better respond to the highly transmissible Omicron variant and free up scarce human and other resources. Most notably, the updated guidance does away with the PCR surveillance testing system, replaces the test to stay program with a test at home program, updates mask recommendations, and transitions from contact tracing to incident tracing. The following memoranda were sent to superintendents: Covid-19 Advisory Memorandum outlining Covid-19 prevention and mitigation measures for winter 2022, another Covid-19 Advisory Memorandum rescinding recommendations for contact tracing, and Test at Home protocols. On Wednesday, January 19, Commissioner Levine and Secretary French spoke to the House and Senate Education Committees about the rollout of the new Covid-19 guidelines for schools.

Act 173 delay

The House Education Committee has heard testimony from many stakeholders on the implementation timeline for Act 173. Act 173 was passed in 2018 in order to enhance the effectiveness, availability and equity of services provided to students who require additional support. The General Assembly delayed its implementation last year and is considering a delay again this year. Some stakeholders have argued for a delay; others against. The school budgeting process is well underway and budgets will soon be warned, and it is unlikely that there will be a resolution on the implementation timeline before then. Please see the links below for more information on the different positions taken by school districts and educators around the state:

Testimony in support of a delay

John Castle, North Country Supervisory Union Superintendents of Schools Testimony

Emile Knisley, Superintendent Orange East Supervisory Union Testimony

Testimony opposing a delay

James Culkeen, Southwest Supervisory Union Testimony

Randi Lowe, Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union Testimony

Vermont Family Network Testimony on Act 173

Additional Testimony

Jay Nichols, Vermont Principals Association Testimony

Megan Roy, Chair Census-Based Funding Advisory Group, Summary of Report to the General Assembly

Advisory Council on Literacy Annual Report

Act 28, which was passed last legislative session, established a statewide Advisory Council on Literacy to advise the Agency of Education, State Board of Education, and General Assembly on how to improve literacy outcomes for students in prekindergarten through grade 12 and how to sustain those outcomes. More specifically, the Council was tasked with the following:

  1. Advise the Agency of Education on how to update Section 2903 of Title I6, implement the statewide literacy plan, and maintain the statewide literacy plan.

  2. Advise the Agency of Education on supports to implement the literacy plan, and on staffing and resources needed at the Agency to support the statewide effort to improve literacy.

  3. Develop a plan for collecting literacy-related data, that informs instructional practices, professional development, literacy proficiencies, and progress of literacy outcomes.

  4. Recommend best practices of tier 1, 2 and 3 literacy instruction in the multitiered system of supports.

  5. Review literacy assessment outcomes and provide ongoing advice on how to continuously improve those outcomes.

On January 18, Gwen Carmolli, chair of the Council on Literacy, testified before the Senate Education Committee on the work of the Advisory Council to date. The Council began its work with a review of literacy outcomes. The data review showed concerning trends of overall low achievement, achievement gaps, particularly for students experiencing poverty and with disabilities, and a trend of declining achievement scores. Gwen emphasized that although a great deal of work is underway, systems, schools, teachers, students, and families/caregivers are facing changing conditions and challenges due to the pandemic, which impacts progress. Currently, the Council is reviewing Section 2903 of Title I6, and developing advice on the implementation and maintenance of the statewide literacy plan. The Council has found consensus on several areas of strength, areas to change for alignment, and areas to consider adding to the statute. To better align the statute with current requirements and laws, the Council recommended two changes:

  1. Change research-based to evidence-based. Federal documents currently reflect evidence-based as the language and requirement for educational criteria and decisions.

  2. Change/update the statute number to reflect the current Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) statute. The current statute for MTSS is Section 2902 of Title 16.

The Council also agreed on two areas to consider changing or adding:

  1. Add prekindergarten and kindergarten to section (b) to better align Section 2903 with Act 28. Prekindergarten and kindergarten are included in Act 28 and are foundational years for learning in future grades.

  2. Include supplemental reading instruction for learners who may have a need in any grade, not just beyond grade 4. Students may need supplemental reading instruction in any grade, prekindergarten through grade 12, not just in the grades currently outlined.

For more information, please link to the Advisory Council of Literacy Annual Report for 2021.

Pupil Weighting: English Language Learners (ELL) Categorical Grant Program

One of the recommendations in the Task Force on the Implementation of Pupil Weighting Factors Report is to eliminate the weight for English Language Learning (ELL) students and create a targeted categorical aid program to fund ELL programs in Vermont to provide a ba