S.287 AN ACT RELATING TO IMPROVING STUDENT EQUITY BY ADJUSTING THE SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA AND PROVIDING EDUCATION QUALITY AND FUNDING OVERSIGHT – TILL AMENDMENT
in the State House of Representatives
on April 28, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: The purpose of this vote was to make education funding more equitable across Vermont school districts.
Beginning in F2025, Vermont school districts will receive more state funding if they have:
1. Low population density
2. Schools with fewer than 250 students, and more funding if those schools have fewer than 100 students
3. A greater proportion of students in poverty (185% of the Federal Poverty Level)
4. A greater proportion of students learning English as a second language
5. A greater proportion of older students
Residents in towns with more of these factors than the average Vermont school district will pay less in taxes, while residents in towns with fewer of these factors will pay more in taxes. Any town’s annual rate increase is capped at 5%, forcing the Education Fund to make up the difference. The JFO says the impact is “unclear,” but they estimate the policy as costing the Education Fund $17 million in F2025 before reaching near zero in F2029-30, as the tax increases stabilize. Property tax rates would need to be adjusted throughout the process.
The JFO estimates a $605,000 cost to the General Fund in F2023, which would go toward creating a universal income declaration form, hiring 2 bureaucrats at the Vermont Agency of Education for implementing the transition, and additional education fund studies.
Analysis: Those voting YES wanted to maintain local control over school budgets while making funding across the state more equitable, in order to give all Vermont students a quality education. The updated formula will help school districts provide better services to students in poverty, low-density rural areas and who are learning English as a second language.
Those voting NO saw S.287 as a lost opportunity to more thoroughly address Vermont’s flawed education funding system, which will continue to raise property taxes every year to support higher education spending, as the number of Vermont students shrinks. They may also have been concerned that S.287 would raise their constituents' taxes.
As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, April 28, 2022: “…Pending the question, Shall the bill pass in concurrence with proposal of amendment?, Rep. Toof of St. Albans Town 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 pass in concurrence with proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 132. Nays, 11.” (Read the Journal, p. 1343 - 1345).
Watch the floor debate on YouTube, Part 1 and Part 2.
VT Joint Fiscal Office note on S.287
Roll Call! House Passes $16 Million Property Tax Increase, Mandates for School District Consolidation (88-55), 2015
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – YES
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – YES
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