11-4-14 – School Property Tax Rising Again

by John McClaughry

Anne Galloway of Vermont Digger.org published a really good commentary on Decemberf 3 that offered up some key facts about the school financing issue. Here are two;

The legislature and governor raised the homestead school property tax base rate in 2013 by 5 cents per $100 dollars of fair market value. In 2014 they raised it again by another 4 cents. Gov. Shumlin has just announced that it will have to go up another two cents in 2015. This will keep happening until grand list values rise, or schools learn to perform on less money. Neither is a sure thing – or even likely.

Vermont spent $19,752 dollars per student in the past school year, according to the NEA. This is the highest in the nation. Over the past few years the Vermont pupil-teacher ratio has dropped from 11:1 down to 7.5:1, lowest in the nation. This is due to small schools, small classes, and especially to hordes of aides assisting with special education.

Gov. Shumlin has conceived a plan for dealing with this. He is sending his Secretary of Education on a road show to explain these facts and others to school boards. But once they learn the facts, what are they likely to do? I don’t have much reason for optimism here.

What is conspicuous is the utter unwillingness of the public school establishment to consider anything that would bring the dreaded choice and competition into play. What’s the doughboy afraid of?


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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.

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