For Immediate Release
October 22, 2015
Contact: Rep. Don Turner
Subject: Legislative Intent on Act 46
The State Board of Education interpretation of Act 46 and the underlying school choice statutes does not allow for all districts in Vermont to comply with Act 46 and retain choice. I believe that the interpretation stifles the ability of local communities to be innovative and creative in complying with Act 46. This was not my intention nor do I believe that it was the intent of the legislature when we passed this law. Quite the opposite. It was and is the intention of our caucus to protect school choice where it exists and has existed in most cases for over a century and a half. We believe this is clear in the language of the law as it is written, but if there is confusion or potential for confusion on behalf of the SBE or other bodies, perhaps a clarifying legislative fix is appropriate and necessary when the legislature returns in January.
During the last election cycle Vermonters made it heard loud and clear that they wanted some type of tax relief. Vermonters continually felt the hard hits of school budgets and school spending. Most Legislators I worked with believed that Act 46 would allow school choice communities the ability to keep their school choice and still merge with non school choices towns. When we return to Montpelier in January, we will make every effort to give clarity to this issue and push to have communities with school choice, receive the option to merge and retain what they have. There is a grandfather provision in Act 46 that allows for students in 9-12 to keep their choice. If choice can work in these communities for an additional 4 years, it should be acceptable and preferable to extend this choice without deadline. This fix should be of interest and priority to all political parties in the best interest of Vermont’s kids.