A group of local residents, meeting from May to December of last year, have drafted an education funding proposal to address Vermont's rising education costs.
Members of the group include businesspeople, retirees, parents, teachers, former and current legislators, academics and school board members. The group was formed by Heidi Spear, Fayston, after an education funding summit.
During the course of their meetings, group members created a proposal for legislators and have passed that proposal on to Washington County senators, Washington 7 representatives and House Speaker Shap Smith.
A two-page summary of their proposal outlines their efforts, noting that participants focused on spending and property tax containment.
"The AEF Proposal encompasses three core elements vital to cultivating greater equity of opportunity, sustainability and prioritization of education investments:
1. Establish a data-driven, reasonable cost standard for Vermont public education to target resources and inform voters.
2. Increase predictability and expenditure controls with an equitable and sustainable approach to raising and distributing statewide revenue to school districts.
3. Establish accountability mechanisms that incent local school districts to provide high quality educational opportunities at a reasonable cost, establish a floor on education opportunity and eliminate unfunded mandates," the authors note in their summary.
To implement those measures they propose establishing a reasonable cost standard for Vermont public education, implementing an equitable and sustainable approach to raising and distributing statewide revenue to local schools. They note income sensitivity would be retained for raising the statewide property tax, which they would keep. Spending above the established reasonable cost would be supported only locally with no income sensitivity. They also advocated for accountability mechanisms, more work on cost effectiveness and consolidation where appropriate.
"To prevent excessive spending disparities, a tiered luxury tax is applied to local education spending at defined percentages above the reasonable cost standard," the summary reports.
The full proposal and the summary can be read at http://fixvtedfunding.com/.