Roll Call! Senate Votes to Force Towns to Fund Pre-K Programs (19-9), 2014

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in the State Senate on May 2, 2014 by a vote of

Purpose: To continue the expansion of the state’s role in pre-kindergarten. Specifically, this bill mandates that publicly funded prekindergarten for 10 hours per week/35 weeks annually be made available at taxpayer expense to any “prekindergarten child” whom the parent or guardian wishes to enroll in an available, prequalified program.  (Read the Bill)
Analysis: Those voting YES on H.270 voted for an estimated $10 million increase in education costs over the next five years, which will be reflected in increased property taxes, and to override local control regarding the decision of whether or not to offer publicly funded pre-kindergarten in the first place.
The key language in the legislation states, “If a parent or guardian chooses to enroll a prekindergarten child in an available, prequalified program, then, pursuant to the parent or guardian‘s choice, the school district of residence shall [emphasis added]: (A) pay tuition…” whether the towns and taxpayers in the district want to or not.
When Act 62 (Vermont’s Public Pre-K Law) came into being in 2007, it came with some important assurances, the first being: “(1) a reaffirmation that prekindergarten education remains voluntary. School districts are not required to provide prekindergarten education [emphasis added], and children are not required to attend. (Guide for Implementing  Prekindergarten  Education in Accordance with Vermont’s Act 62, 2009) Without these assurances, the original pre-k bill would likely not have passed. Now they are being jettisoned.
The $10 million price tag comes with the goal of enrolling 60% of eligible three, four, and five year olds into publicly funded pre-k programs. Currently, 36% of eligible children are enrolled.
Given the steady march of pre-k legislation over the past 6 years in Vermont (First, codifying the concept of universal, publicly-funded pre-k into law. Then, removing the cost containment caps on enrollment numbers. Now, changing it from a voluntary to a mandatory program at the district level…), it is not without reason to expect this program will, over time, be expanded from a 10 hour-per-week program to a 40 hour-per-week program administered and funded entirely through the public school monopoly system, at which point it will be extremely expensive.
Senate Journal, Friday, May 2, 2014. “…the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment?, on a roll call, Yeas 19, Nays 9.” (Read the Journal, p. 1225-1226)

How They Voted

(Click on Your Senator’s Name to Send an Email)

Timothy Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) – YES
Claire Ayer (D-Addison) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – ABSENT
John Campbell (D-Windsor) – YES
Donald Collins (D-Franklin) – ABSENT
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
William Doyle (R-Washington) – YES
Margaret Flory (R-Rutland) – NO
Eldred French (D-Rutland) – YES
Peter Galbraith (D-Windham) – YES
Robert Hartwell (D-Bennington) – YES
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – NO
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – NO
Norman McAllister (R-Franklin) – NO
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington) – YES
John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – NO
Diane Snelling (R-Chittenden) – NO
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – YES
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES
David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden) – YES

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