10-23-15 – Legislators Call for Act 46 Fix To Protect School Choice

by Rob Roper

Yesterday, Minority Leader Don Turner (R-Milton) sent out a press release affirming that the State Board of Education’s (SBE) ruling regarding school choice and merging districts was not in sync with the legislative intent of the law.

I believe that the interpretation stifles the ability of local communities to be innovative and creative in complying with Act 46. This was not my intention nor do I believe that it was the intent of the legislature when we passed this law. Quite the opposite.

This jibes with a statement by Democratic Representative Linda Martin (D-Wolcott), who was quoted in a recent Burlington Free Press story as being “blindsided” by the SBE’s ruling, which stated that current school choice (non-operating) districts could not merge with non-school choice (operating) districts and still maintain the school choice that these towns have enjoyed for a century and a half.

Turner goes on to suggest that if the language in Act 46 is not clear on this point, the legislature will (should) pass clarifying language in January to make sure legislative intent is carried out.

Advocates of Act 46 and the merger process are telling local communities and the press that disallowing choice in mergers with operating districts was the legislative intent behind the law. Legislators on both sides of the aisle disagree – and it is their intent we’re talking about. So who is full of boloney?

Here is the full text of Turner’s press release:

For Immediate Release

October 22, 2015

Contact:  Rep. Don Turner

802-373-5960

Subject: Legislative Intent on Act 46

The State Board of Education interpretation of Act 46 and the underlying school choice statutes does not allow for all districts in Vermont to comply with Act 46 and retain choice. I believe that the interpretation stifles the ability of local communities to be innovative and creative in complying with Act 46. This was not my intention nor do I believe that it was the intent of the legislature when we passed this law. Quite the opposite. It was and is the intention of our caucus to protect school choice where it exists and has existed in most cases for over a century and a half. We believe this is clear in the language of the law as it is written, but if there is confusion or potential for confusion on behalf of the SBE or other bodies, perhaps a clarifying legislative fix is appropriate and necessary when the legislature returns in January.

During the last election cycle Vermonters made it heard loud and clear that they wanted some type of tax relief. Vermonters continually felt the hard hits of school budgets and school spending. Most Legislators I worked with believed that Act 46 would allow school choice communities the ability to keep their school choice and still merge with non school choices towns. When we return to Montpelier in January, we will make every effort to give clarity to this issue and push to have communities with school choice, receive the option to merge and retain what they have. There is a grandfather provision in Act 46 that allows for students in 9-12 to keep their choice. If choice can work in these communities for an additional 4 years, it should be acceptable and preferable to extend this choice without deadline. This fix should be of interest and priority to all political parties in the best interest of Vermont’s kids.

 

 

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...

Video