in the State House of Representatives
on March 17, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: The purpose of H.727 is to update how union schools districts (multi-town school district governed by one board) are formed and how towns can withdraw from school districts, following the adoption of Act 46 in 2015.
The controversy surrounded Article 3 of H.727, regarding town withdrawal. Current Vermont statute as drafted in 1967, requires that citizens of a town hoping to withdraw their town from a district must approach the State Board of Education and show that there is classroom space available to accommodate students moving to new schools. These individuals can bring the matter to the town for a vote. H.727 would require more analysis be completed before the proposed withdrawal goes to vote, and gives the State Board of Education a final say in that withdrawal process.
Analysis: Those voting YES believe Vermont’s union school district language needs a serious update from 1967, believe this is in the best interest of Vermont students. The town withdrawal language simply adds a requirement that those seeking to withdraw their town from a school district put forward complete information to local voters before there is a vote, so they can make a more fully informed decision.
Those voting NO objected to the added roadblocks for a town withdrawing from a school district. The proposed process for making a more fully informed decision will become much more difficult for smaller towns hoping to separate from their district. H.727 takes away local decision-making power and centralizes it in the State Board of Education, which will be given more of a final say in authorizing a separation.
As H.727 states “if the State Board determines that it is in the best interests of the State, the students, and the districts involved…” The House Education Committee did not hear any testimony from local town officials suggesting the further reporting requirement is necessary. Opponents suggested that the town of Lincoln’s 2020 separation from its district is an example of a thoroughly informed citizenry voting to separate, and suggested that other small towns will have a much more difficult time of withdrawing in the wake of H.727.
As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, March 17, 2022: “Pending the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?, Rep. Cordes of Lincoln demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number. The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 98. Nays, 39." (Read the Journal, p. 648-653)
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – YES
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – NO