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YCQM - Rep. Johannah Leddy Donovan - Jan. 15, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Rep. Johannah Leddy Donovan - Jan. 15, 2012

January 15, 2012 -- Rep. Johannah Leddy Donovan, D-Burlington, and Rep. Oliver Olsen, R-Jamaica, join Kristin Carlson to discuss education issues the 2012 Legislature faces.

>> THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. I'M KRISTIN CARLSON. WE ARE RECORDING THIS AT THE STATE HOUSE. OUR FOCUS THIS MORNING IS ON EDUCATION. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE IS JOHANNA LEDDY DONOVAN AND OLIVER OLSEN.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THIS REPORT LOOKED AT HOW THE STATE'S EDUCATION SYSTEM WAS AND WAS NOT WORKING. FIRST OF ALL, REPRESENTATIVE DONOVAN, WHAT WERE YOU HOPING TO FIND OUT?

>> I THINK THE QUESTION FOR THE GROUP THAT DID THIS REPORT WAS A LITTLE BIT NARROWER THAN THAT. IT WAS WHETHER OUR EDUCATIONAL FUNDING SYSTEM IS WORKING AS INTENDED BY ACT 60 AND ACT 68. THEY WERE REALLY LIMITED TO THAT QUESTION, AND IN MY VIEW AND THE VIEW OF OTHERS, THEY GAVE US AN A+ ON THAT THAT OUR EDUCATION FUNDING SYSTEM HAS BEEN, I THINK, SINCE 1997 AND '98, WHEN WE FIRST PASSED ACT 60, IS INDEED WORKING. THAT MEANS IT'S GIVING EVERY CHILD REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE EQUAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES SO THEY CAN GET THE BEST EDUCATION THAT THEY COULD NEED. AND I THINK WE REVISED ACT 60 IN 2003, I THINK, WITH ACT 68, AND I THINK THAT'S WHEN WE DIVIDED THE LIST, SO WE HAVE A NONRESIDENTIAL TAX RATE AND A RESIDENTIAL TAX RATE, WHICH IS REALLY THE CONVERSATION WE HAVE AROUND HERE, BECAUSE THAT DRIVES PEOPLE'S PROPERTY TAXES. AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT OUR EDUCATIONAL FUNDING, THE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAX IS LESS THAN 50% ON OUR EDUCATIONAL FUNDING, SO THAT WE HAVE A NUMBER OF OTHER STREAMS OF MONEY THAT GO TO SUPPORT EDUCATION IN VERMONT.

>> WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE REPORT?

>> THE REPORT WAS A MIXED BAG FOR MANY PEOPLE, INCLUDING MYSELF. I WOULD AGREE WITH REPRESENTATIVE DONOVAN THAT THE SCOPE OF THE REPORT WAS NARROWLY FOCUSED ON HOW WELL ACT 60 AND 68 ARE WORKING AGAINST THE GOALS CONTAINED IN THE LEGISLATION, IN OTHER WORDS, HOW WELL IS THE LAW WORKING AGAINST THE CRITERIA WE SET UP IN THE BEGINNING WHEN THE LAWS WERE PASSED. THE REPORT ARGUES THAT, YES, WE HAVE MET THE GOALS OUTLINED IN THE ORIGINAL LEGISLATION. HOWEVER, THE REPORT REALLY DOES NOT ADDRESS A MORE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION, WHICH IS IS THIS THE RIGHT WAY TO FUND EDUCATION HERE IN VERMONT, COULD WE BE DOING A BETTER JOB OF PAYING FOR EDUCATION AND EDUCATING OUR STUDENTS HERE IN VERMONT, AND IS THIS THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY THAT WE CAN COLLECT AND REDISTRIBUTE SCARCE TAX DOLLARS IN THIS STATE.

>> SO YOU THINK THAT?

>> I TELL THE STORY OFTEN AFTER WE PASSED ACT 60, THERE WAS A PICTURE OF A TEACHER OPENING UP A BOX OF SCIENCE BOOKS THAT SHE WAS ABLE TO GET BECAUSE THEY WERE FINALLY ABLE TO HAVE RESOURCES, IT WAS THE NEW SCIENCE CURRICULUM IN 17 YEARS. THEY'RE NEIGHBORS OF ESSEX, AND I'M SURE THE STUDENTS THAT LIVED IN THOSE TOWNS HAD SCIENCE CURRICULUMS THAT WERE UPDATED EVERY THREE OR FOUR YEARS. I THINK THIS IS A GRAPHIC EXAMPLE OF EQUALIZATION OF RESOURCES. I THINK REPRESENTATIVE OLSEN'S POINT ABOUT CHANGING THE FUNDING SYSTEM: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO A COURT ORDER. THE BRIGHAM DECISION SAID WE DID NOT HAVE EQUITY IN OUR SCHOOL FUNDING.

>> IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY FEW YEARS EDUCATION FUNDING SYSTEM WEARS ITSELF OUT. ACT 60 AND 68, PEOPLE START TO THINK IT IS TIME TO REVAMP THIS. I REMEMBER WHEN THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOUSE WERE LOOKING AT AN INCOME TAX SYSTEM, DOES THAT HAVE ANY INTEREST?

>> BOTH MEN UNFORTUNATELY DIED LAST WEEK, REPRESENTATIVE BANIGAN FROM GEORGIA -- IT WAS A BIPARTISAN EFFORT, AND WE THOUGHT THAT MAYBE, YOU KNOW, THAT IT WOULD WORK IF EVERYBODY PAID ON THEIR INCOME. I'M NOT QUITE SURE -- THEN IT GOT INTO THE DISCUSSION OF WHAT WOULD BE THE TAX BASE, AGI OR WHAT WOULD WE BASE THAT ON, AND IT BECAME JUST SORT OF A CONVERSATION THAT, FOR SOME REASON, JUST HIT A WALL AT THAT TIME. I'M NOT SURE WHETHER THERE'S INTEREST IN REVISITING THOSE CONVERSATIONS.

>> DO YOU THINK ACT 60 HAS SERVED ITS PURPOSE AND IT'S TIME FOR REVAMP?

>> I THINK WE SHOULD REVAMP THE SYSTEM. WE ARE SEEING AN INCREASEING RERELIANCE ON THE PROPERTY TAX. IF YOU LOOK AT BOTH RESIDENTIAL AND NONRESIDENTIAL INCOME TAX, IT'S 68%, THE HIGHEST LEVEL THAT WE'VE SEEN SINCE THE PASSAGE OF ACT 68. PART OF THAT IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOVERNOR HAVE REDUCED THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE EDUCATION FUND, WHICH PUTS MORE PRESSURE ON PROPERTY TAX PAYERS, AND WE'RE GOING TO SEE INCREASES DUE TO THOSE SPECIFIC ACTIONS. I THINK THE PROBLEM, THE REAL PROBLEM WE HAVE WITH THE FUNDING SYSTEM TODAY, IS THERE IS NO LINK BETWEEN THE DOLLARS THAT WE SPEND AND HOW WE EQUALIZE THOSE DOLLARS, AND EQUALIZATIONS OF OUTCOMES. THE REPORT SAYS ALTHOUGH WE HAVE DEALT WITH FUNDING BY GROWING EDUCATION SPENDING AT A RATE OF 149% SINCE THE PASSAGE OF THOSE LAWS, AND WITH THE PAST FIVE YEARS, WE HAVE NOT SEEN ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT IN OVERALL STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. I THINK THAT'S THE QUESTION. I THINK MANY PEOPLE CAN AGREE WE NEED TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND SEE HOW WE CAN MORE EFFICIENTLY SPEND THOSE DOLLARS SO WE'RE GETTING MORE BANG FOR OUR BUCK AND DOING A BETTER JOB OF EDUCATING OUR STUDENTS.

>> I THINK I FEEL THAT I'M A BIT DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE I THINK THIS REPORT VALIDATES OUR EXISTING FUNDING SYSTEM, AND I WAS HOPING THAT AFTER WE HEARD THE FIRST REPORT WE WOULD MAYBE THEN MOVE ON TO DO EXACTLY WHAT OLIVER SUGGESTED, THAT WE START GETTING RESOURCES INTO THE CLASSROOM. SHORTLY AFTER ACT 60, WE HAD DIFFERENT DISTRICTS THAT WERE CATCHING UP. THEY HAD BEEN SORT OF STARVED DISTRICTS FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, SO THEY WERE CATCHING UP IN GETTING RESOURCES. AFTER ACT 68, YOU SEE A BUMP IN SOME OF OUR WEALTHIER TOWNS THAT WERE NO LONGER ABLE TO FUND RAZE, WHICH THEY ABOUT HAD BEEN ABLE TO EARLIER, SO THEY ALSO INCREASED THEIR SPENDING. I THINK IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT WE MAKE THESE DECISIONS IN 277 BOARDS, SCHOOL BOARDS IN THE STATE OF VERMONT THAT ARE DOING BUDGETS, AND THEY'RE MAKING SOME OF THESE DECISIONS. THEY'RE NOT MADE HERE IN MONTPELIER, THEY'RE MADE BY PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT THE EDUCATION OF THEIR KIDS IN THEIR DISTRICT. NOW, I THINK IT SEEMS TO BE A REAL VALUE IN VERMONT THAT WE RETAIN THAT LOCAL CONTROL SYSTEM, SO UNTIL PEOPLE WHO ARE VOTING FOR THE SCHOOLS IN THEIR DISTRICTS DECIDE NOT TO DO THAT, THEN WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS. I WILL SAY THAT I THINK IF WE COULD GET THIS CONVERSATION OFF THE TABLE AND DECIDE WHAT IS AN EQUITABLE FUNDING SYSTEM, LET'S TALK ABOUT RESOURCING AND REALLY FOCUSING AND HAVING SCHOOL BOARDS FOCUS ON THE CONVERSATION OF WHAT IS GOING TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF CHILDREN, AND WHAT'S GOING TO MAKE THEM SUCCESSFUL LEARNERS. THAT'S WHERE WE NEED TO GO. THAT'S WHERE WE NEED TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION.

>> WHAT ABOUT REPRESENTATIVE OLSEN'S COMMENT THAT MAYBE THE OUTCOMES AREN'T EQUATING WITH THE EXPENDITURES?

>> WELL, I THINK WE HAD TWO DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL ECONOMISTS IN OUR COMMITTEE TODAY, AND THEY TOOK SOME EXCEPTION TO THE METHODOLOGY IN THE PIKUS REPORT. THERE ARE CHILDREN WHO ARE PROFICIENT AND PROFICIENT WITH DISTINCTION. THEY NEGLECTED THE LOWER TWO TIERS. IF THEY COULD SEE THOSE, IF THEY SEE IN THOSE SCORES OVER TIME, THERE IS AN INCREASE, WE CAN GRAPH IT. IT'S GOING UP. THAT'S THE POSITIVE SIDE. TO SAY THAT WE'RE THERE, WE'RE NOT, WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO IN HAVING CHILDREN ACHIEVE AT A HIGHER LEVEL. A LOT OF THAT COMES FROM CHILDREN WHO COME FROM THE LOWER SOCIOECONOMIC STRATA. IT HAS BEEN PROVEN AND SEE SEE IT YEAR AFTER YEAR THAT THOSE CHILDREN SCORE FAR LOWER ON ANY TEST, THEY NEED MUCH MORE SUPPORTS, WE NEED TO START TO HAVE A STARTER PRE-K SYSTEM THAT WILL ADDRESS SOME OF THOSE NEEDS. WE HAVE A STATISTIC IN VERMONT THAT 50% OF THE CHILDREN COMING INTO THE KINDERGARTEN THAT ARE READY TO LEARN. WE NEED TO START TO STRENGTHEN THAT PRE-K, THAT TRANSITION INTO KINDERGARTEN, AND START TO REALLY MONITOR THOSE CHILDREN AND HELP THEM ON THOSE EARLY PRIMARY GRADE LEVELS TO BE ABLE TO READ, TO MASTER LITERACY, SO THEY CAN GO ON AND BE SUCCESSFUL AND HAVE SOME CHOICES. THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE WHAT I'M HOPING WE WILL GIVE TO SCHOOL BOARDS TO TALK ABOUT. HOW DO WE ACCOMPLISH THOSE GOALS THAT ARE SO IMPORTANT? AND THEY'RE IMPORTANT TO VERMONT'S FUTURE AND OUR ECONOMIC VITALITY.

>> REPRESENTATIVE OLSEN?

>> I THINK IT WOULD BE WRONG TO TRY TO DE-COUPLE FUNDING FROM OUR WE STRUCTURE EDUCATION IN THIS STATE, BECAUSE LOCAL CONTROL IS IMPORTANT, TO ME, TO MANY LEGISLATORS, TO MANY VERMONTERS. BUT IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE LOCAL CONTROL, WE HAVE COUPLE THE SPENDING DECISIONS THAT WE ASK OUR VOTERS TO MAKE WITH EXPECTATIONS OF PERFORMANCE, AND RIGHT NOW ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS WITH THE FUNDING MECHANISM IS THERE ARE NO EXPECTATIONS OF PERFORMANCE. THERE'S NOTHING BUILT INTO THE FUNDING SYSTEM TO ENCOURAGE GREATER PERFORMANCE GAINS IN THE SCHOOLS. SO I THINK REALLY, ANOTHER THING THAT WAS VERY INTERESTING IN THE PIKUS REPORT WERE THESE CASE STUDIES THAT WERE DONE. THEY WENT TO FIVE SCHOOLS ACROSS VERMONT THAT REPRESENTED SMALL SCHOOLS, LARGE SCHOOLS, SCHOOLS WITH HIGH NUMBERS OF LOW-INCOME CHILDREN, SCHOOLS WITH CHILDREN FROM WEALTHIER FAMILIES, AND THEY FOCUSED ON SCHOOLS THAT HAD SEEN DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS, AND WHAT'S REALLY INTERESTING WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE CASE STUDIES, WE HAVE IT IN MONTGOMERY IS A WONDERFUL EXAMPLE. THEY SPENT BELOW THE STATE-WIDE AVERAGE. THEY HAVE OVER 50% OF THEIR STUDENTS ON FREE AND REDUCED LUNCHES, WHICH IS AN INDICATOR OF POVERTY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY, YET THEIR TEST SCORES OUTPERFORM THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE SIGNIFICANTLY. SO HERE'S AN EXAMPLE WHERE WE HAVE A SCHOOL THAT'S DOING IT RIGHT. THE QUESTION IS HOW DO WE ENCOURAGE MORE SCHOOLS TO ACHIEVE THAT LEVEL OF STANDARD? AND WE KNOW FROM THESE CASE STUDIES THAT IT IS POSSIBLE. WHEN WE LOOK AT NEW HAMPSHIRE, HERE'S ANOTHER GREAT CASE STUDY. NEW HAMPSHIRE SPENDS 20% PER PUPIL THAN VERMONT DOES. ONE OF THE OTHER KEY FINDINGS FROM THIS REPORT IS THEY CONSISTENTLY OUTPERFORM VERMONT SCHOOLS IN ALMOST EVERY CATEGORY. SO WE HAVE TO BE ASKING OURSELVES, HOW CAN WE DO BETTER WITH THE RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE, HOW CAN WE MORE EFFICIENTLY USE THOSE RESOURCES. AND THE PROBLEM WITH THE FUNDING SYSTEM IS IT'S LIKE ON AUTO PILOT. WE INCREASE FUNDING YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR, AND THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THAT IF WE PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE SYSTEM, WE'RE GOING TO GET BETTER OUTCOMES. THIS REPORT DEBUNKS THAT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. SO NOW WE NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT HOW WE CAN RETOOL THE FUNDING MECHANISM SO IT CONTINUES TO BE FAIR, SO THAT WE DO HAVE SOME EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS THAT WE ARE HOLDING SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND VOTERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THOSE SPENDING DECISIONS. WE CAN'T HAVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS INCREASING THEIR BUDGETS TO PAY FOR THINGS LIKE NEW FOOTBALL UNIFORMS WHEN WE HAVE OTHER SCHOOLS THAT CAN'T AFFORD THE BASICS, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT FUNDING SYSTEM, IS IT PROVIDES AN ADVANTAGE TO LARGER SCHOOL DISTRICTS. THEY'RE ABLE TO AFFORD MORE BECAUSE OF THEIR ECONOMIES OF SCALE THAN SMALLER SCHOOL DISTRICTS. IF WE DON'T TACKLE SOME OF THESE PROBLEMS, WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO SEE INCREASING PER-PUPIL SPENDING WITHOUT A CORE LARRY INCREASE IN STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

>> WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR DISCUSSION FROM THE STATE HOUSE ON EDUCATION. THERE IS A LOT MORE TO GET TO, AND COMMENTS ABOUT

>> WELCOME BACK TO THE STATE HOUSE, EVERYONE. WE ARE CONTINUING TO TALK ABOUT EDUCATION AND THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN VERMONT. WE'RE JOINED BY TWO LAWMAKERS VERY FOCUSED ON THIS, JOHANNA DONOVAN AND OLIVER OLSEN.

>> THANKS, AGAIN.

>> WE JUST LEFT FOR THE BREAK MAKING A CASE ABOUT OUTCOMES AND HOW IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY EQUATE TO MORE MONEY SPENT BETTER OUTCOMES. YOU WANTED TO ADD YOUR PIECE.

>> I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO SHARE THIS WITH REPRESENTATIVE OLSEN, BUT THERE WAS A THESIS DONE HERE IN VERMONT T WAS A LONGITUDINAL STUDY TRACKING CERTAIN STUDENTS FROM 4TH GRADE, 8TH GRADE, TO 11TH GRADE IN THE SAME SCHOOL DISTRICT, AND IT CLEARLY SHOWED THAT MORE RESOURCES HAVE BETTER OUTCOMES. AND IT ALSO SHOWED THAT WHERE YOU PUT THOSE RESOURCES ALSO HAD AN EFFECT ON OUTCOMES, AND A SIGNIFICANT -- THERE IS A DIFFERENT SCALE SCORES ON TESTING. AND SO I DON'T THINK IT'S ENTIRELY TRUE THAT IF YOU SPEND MORE MONEY, YOU, YOU KNOW, SHOULDN'T HAVE BETTER OUTCOMES, BECAUSE YOU SHOULD, AND WE DO HAVE THAT STUDY TO SHOW EXACTLY THAT. ANOTHER THING THAT -- I THINK THE BEAUTY OF ACTS 60 AND 68 IS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BRING THE HOUSE FOR $250,000 IN SPRINGFIELD, IT'S SPRINGFIELD AND A HOUSE IN STOWE FOR 250,000 F THEY HAVE EQUAL PER-STUDENT SPENDING, THE TAX RATES SHOULD BE EQUAL. THOSE DECISIONS ABOVE AND BEYOND THAT ARE MADE ON THE LOCAL LEVEL. BUT WE HAVE THAT EQUITY BASE HERE THAT WE FORGET THAT I THINK IS REALLY THE BEAUTY AND THE BASIS FOR THE EDUCATIONAL FUNDING LAW, AND WE ALSO FORGET THAT MAYBE 60 -- HE MAY KNOW A STATISTIC BETTER THAN I DO NOW -- BUT 60% OF VERMONTERS PAY ON THE VALUE OF THEIR HOMES, BUT THAT'S AN IMPORTANT PIECE. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY ARE INSULATED FROM ANY IMPACT IF THEY VOTE UP OR DOWN A BUDGET, BECAUSE THE PERCENTAGE OF THEIR INCOME WILL MOVE IF THEY VOTE THE BUDGET UP AND THERE'S MORE EXPENSES. BUT I THINK WE HAVE FOUND A FORMULA FOR EDUCATION THAT WORKS, AND I THINK -- WE HEAR FROM MORE VERMONT EDUCATORS ABOUT SOME OF THESE OUTCOMES. I WILL AGREE WE ARE SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY FOR EDUCATION. VERMONT ALWAYS HAS. BUT WE NEED TO CONCENTRATE OR GETTING BETTER OUTCOMES FOR ALL STUDENTS IN VERMONT, AND I THINK THERE ARE SOME STATISTICS OUT THERE IN STUDIES THAT SHOW THAT WE CAN DO IT, AND MORE MONEY DOES EQUAL BETTER OUTCOMES.

>> I'LL GIVE YOU A CHANCE, THEN WE'LL MOVE ON.

>> I THINK ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT FUNDING SYSTEM IS THE SHEER COMPLEXITY. WE HAVE FIVE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF TAXPAYERS WHO ARE PAYING IN DIFFERENT WAYS BASED ON THE SPENDING DECISION THAT VOTERS MAKE ON TOWN MEETING DAY. WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE GUARANTEED NOT TO PAY MORE THAN A SPECIFIC PERCENTAGE REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH THE SCHOOL BUDGET GOES UP IN THAT TOWN, SO SOME PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY INSULATED FROM SPENDING DECISIONS. WITH PEOPLE BETWEEN $47,000 AND $90,000 WHO PAY A PROPERTY TAX THEN A YEAR LATER GET A REBATE BASED ON THEIR INCOME LEVELS. VERY COMPLICATED, VERY FEW VOTERS UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS. A LOT OF LEGISLATORS STRUGGLE WITH THAT CONCEPT. IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO GET THEIR ARMS AROUND. WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO EARN MORE THAN $90,000 A YEAR WHO PAY THE FULL RESIDENTIAL RATE. WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO OWN SECOND HOMES WHO PAY THE NONRESIDENTIAL RATE, AND BUSINESS OWNERS WHO PAY THE NONRESIDENTIAL RATE. THAT MAKES IT VERY CHALLENGING TO TRULY UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF THE DECISION MADE ON TOWN MEETING DAY.

>> LET'S MOVE ON FROM THIS REPORT. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET SPEECH. EDUCATION WAS SOMETHING HE TALKED ABOUT QUITE A BIT. FIRST I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE IDEA OF ELEVATING THE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER TO A SECRETARY, MAKING HIM APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT MOVE?

>> I THINK IT IS AN IDEA THAT WAS CONCEIVED IN OUR COMMITTEE, AND I AM IN TOTAL SUPPORT OF IT. I THINK -- IT PROVED TO ME THAT WHEN WE HAD CAMPAIGNS IN THIS STATE, WE WANT TO HEAR MORE THAN JUST THE COST OF EDUCATION, THAT WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT OLIVER AND I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT TODAY, WE WANT BETTER OUTCOMES FOR OUR CHILDREN, WE WANT A LEADER TO BE TALKING ABOUT HOW ARE WE GOING TO LIFT THESE CHILDREN IN POVERTY AND GET THEM LEARNING AT THE SAME LEVEL AS THEIR PEERS IN THE CLASSROOM. WE THINK NOW IT'S SORT OF A CONVOLUTED METHOD THAT WE'RE DELIVERING. THE AT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, THEY HIRE THE COMMISSIONER. RIGHT NOW WE'RE IN TRANSITION BETWEEN TWO ADMINISTRATIONS, SO I THINK GOVERNOR SHUM LYNN HAS JUST MADE HIS THIRD APPOINTMENT TO THE STATE BOARD, SO THERE ARE HOLDOVERS FROM GOVERNOR DOUGLAS. THEY SORT OF ARE THE VOICE TO THE COMMISSION. THE GOVERNOR DOES NOT HAVE TO REACT TO THE GOVERNOR AT ALL. I THINK THE COMMISSIONER HAS ALWAYS BEEN INVITED TO CABINET MEETINGS AND IS INVOLVED IN CONVERSATIONS, BUT IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO HAPPEN, AND I THINK IT REALLY GIVES US ONE VOICE OF LEADERSHIP IN THE STATE FOR EDUCATION. AND GOVERNOR DOUGLAS SUPPORTED THIS, GOVERNOR SHUM LYNN SUPPORTS IT. I THINK I, OF COURSE, AM VERY PLEASED THAT GOVERNOR SHUM LYNN HAS TAKEN A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT TO TALK ABOUT EDUCATION.

>> WHEN WILL YOU TALK ABOUT IT AGAIN.

>> I KNOW THERE IS SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE, A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT IT, SOME PEOPLE FEAR IT WOULD POLITICIZE EDUCATION. I DON'T KNOW THAT IT WOULD ANY MORE THAN THE ENVIRONMENT HAS BEEN POLITICIZED BECAUSE FISH AND WILDLIFE HAD BEEN POLITICIZED, BUT I THINK IT'S AN IMPORTANT DISCUSSION TO HAVE.

>> A REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE?

>> THIS IS REALLY A NONPARTISAN ISSUE. I THINK YOU'LL FIND DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE, AND I THINK JOEY'S MADE MANY OF THE ARGUMENTS CERTAINLY IN SUPPORT OF THIS. I THINK THE CONCERN THAT SOME PEOPLE MAY HAVE IS THAT IT COULD POLITICAL SIZE THE POSITION, AND WE HAVE TWO-YEAR TERMS FOR GOVERNOR. THERE'S A LOT OF POTENTIAL FOR TURNOVER. WITH THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THERE'S A LITTLE BIT MORE CONTINUITY BECAUSE THERE ARE STAGGERED TERMS. THE COMMISSIONER, AS JOEY MENTIONED, REPORTS TO THAT BOARD. ALSO, IT -- AND THE PEOPLE WHO SERVE ON THE BOARD, FOR THE MOST PART, COME FROM BACKGROUNDS IN EDUCATION. THEY SERVE ON LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS, THEY'RE FORMER EDUCATORS, THEY HAVE A LOT OF EXPERTISE THAT THEY BRING TO THE TABLE, BUT FOR THE MOST PART, IT'S NONPOLITICAL. THERE IS AN ADVANTAGE OF THAT. TO JOEY'S POINT, THERE IS ALSO AN ADVANTAGE TO HAVING THE COMMISSIONER BEING ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE THE VOTERS CAN COME TO THE HOUSE.

>> ARE YOU VOTING FOR OR AGAINST IT?

>> I HAVEN'T MADE UP MY MIND. IT'S AN ISSUE I'VE BEEN WRESTLING WITH, I'VE BEEN TALKING TO LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS IN MY AREA. IT WILL BE A DIFFICULT DECISION EITHER WAY.

>> I DO WANT TO POINT OUT THAT, BECAUSE OF THE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE'S RECOMMENDATIONS IN THIS BILL, WE ALSO HAVE WILL EXPAND THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO INCLUDE REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE NEA, PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION, AND SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION. WE THINK WHEN WE DO THAT, WE THINK WE HAVE A RICHER CONVERSATION ABOUT LOCAL ISSUES THAT WILL BE THEN BROUGHT UP TO A STATE LEVEL AND HAVE BETTER CONVERSATIONS AROUND IT. SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THE STATE BOARD IS NOT TOTALLY IN TOUCH WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING OUT THERE IN THE DISTRICTS AND SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS AND TEACHERS AND OTHERS WHO ARE IN THE DAY TO DAY EDUCATION WORLD ARE STRUGGLING WITH, AND WE'LL EXPAND THAT CONVERSATION.

>> ALSO VERY QUICKLY, THE IDEA OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION IS ACROSS THE STREET FROM US. IS THAT A GOOD IDEA?

>> IT'S NOT ALL ACROSS THE STREET. I HAVE NOT TALKED TO ANYBODY FROM THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ABOUT THAT SUGGESTION THAT THE GOVERNOR MADE YESTERDAY. I THINK IT'S KIND OF EXCITING TO HAVE EVERYBODY UNDER THE SAME ROOF FOR A LOT OF REASONS. BECAUSE THEY HAVE TAKEN A BIG HIT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, SO FOLKS WHO WORK AT THE DRE HAVE TO BE MULTI-TASKERS, SO I THINK THERE IS EFFICIENCY BEING UNDER THE SAME ROOF.

>> IT WILL TAKE MORE TESTIMONY TO FIGURE THAT ONE OUT. THE GOVERNOR TALKED ABOUT SUPERVISORY CONSOLIDATION. THIS HAS BEEN TALKED ABOUT FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS. IS THIS GOING ANYWHERE THIS SESSION?

>> WELL, I WAS DISAPPOINTED WHEN THE GOVERNOR REFERRED TO SENATOR KEVIN'S BILL IN THE SENATE. I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I HAVEN'T READ THAT REALLY IN DETAIL, BUT I'M DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE WE IN THE HOUSE ARE TRYING TO REVISIT ACT 153 WHICH WAS A VOLUNTARY CONSOLIDATION BILL. WE INTENTIONALLY DIDN'T TOUCH IT LAST YEAR BECAUSE THERE WERE GOOD DISCUSSIONS GOING ON ABOUT REGIONAL EDUCATION DISTRICTS, WHICH I THINK OLIVER'S DISTRICT IS DOING RIGHT NOW. WE THOUGHT IT WAS TOO PRESCRIPTIVE IN THAT BILL, MAYBE THERE ARE CHANGES WE CAN MAKE THAT ARE GOING TO ENCOURAGE OTHER TYPES OF COMING TOGETHER FOR THE SUPERVISORY UNIONS MERGING AND SEVERAL OF THOSE HAPPENING. SO I WAS KIND OF DISAPPOINTED THAT THE GOVERNOR WASN'T A LITTLE BIT MORE SUPPORTIVE OF US TRYING TO ENCOURAGE THESE CONVERSATIONS BY MAKING CHANGES TO ACT 153, AND I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE BETTER LUCK IN CONSOLIDATING WHEN IT'S FROM THE GRASSROOTS.

>> THAN THE TOP DOWN? WHAT'S YOUR SENSE, THIS WITH A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE?

>> WE SPEND $1.3 BILLION ON EDUCATION IN VERMONT, AND THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL ESTIMATES THAT WE MIGHT SAVE $8 MILLION. MY FEAR IS THAT THIS WILL BECOME AN EXCUSE NOT TO TACKLE THE BIGGER ISSUES. I WANT TO FOCUS ON THE WHOLE PICTURE AND NOT ONE SMALL ADMINISTRATIVE PIECE. BUT IN FAIRNESS TO THE GOVERNOR, ONE OF THE STATISTICS THAT CAME OUT OF THE PICUS REPORT, WE'VE SEEN A DECLINE OF 18% IN STUDENT ENROLLMENT BUT A 22% INCREASE IN ADMINISTRATIVE STAFFING. IT'S WORTH LOOKING AT, BUT IT'S A SMALL PIECE OF THE PIE.

>> I THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING ME.

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