Vermont Imposes Tighter Reins on Local School Budget Hikes
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
School districts aiming to significantly increase their spending will be required to take two votes—one to reconfirm their previous year’s budget and another to approve the new budget—under a measure approved as a compromise in the last hours before the Vermont legislature ended its session on May 12.
The controversial requirement would be triggered by a budget proposal that seeks an increase higher than the rate of inflation plus 1 percent. The measure also requires the state education department to review high-spending districts, examine the cost increase of education spending annually, and report on increases and decreases in spending to the state school board, especially in special education.
Lawmakers also approved a K-12 education budget of $1.3 billion for fiscal 2008, up 2.6 percent from last year. The total state budget for the fiscal year is $4.8 billion.
In other action, the legislature approved a measure to bolster voluntary public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. Districts will be required to see if qualified service providers have the capacity to meet the district’s needs. About 3,400 children are enrolled in such programs around the state.
Lawmakers also set a statewide school calendar, making the last Tuesday in August as the first day of school. The new calendar also provides for one mandatory professional development day for teachers.
Vol. 26, Issue 38, Page 21