Could consolidation cut Vt. school spending? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Could consolidation cut Vt. school spending?

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Gov. Peter Shumlin is promising to "redouble efforts" to improve the education funding system in response to school budget rejections on Town Meeting Day.

Some 35 communities said no to proposed budgets-- the highest number of rejections since 2003. Many of those districts presented budgets requiring large property tax increases.

The governor issued a statement saying, "Vermonters are clearly frustrated by high spending, high property taxes, and the complexity of the statewide education funding system."

Finding a fix won't be easy. But the Burlington school superintendent-- who saw her budget rejected-- believes part of the answer lies in school consolidation.

"I'm not so sure that the funding system is what necessarily needs to be looked at as it is the governance system that needs to be looked at. Because we're funding very, very small schools at a high cost as opposed to larger districts, such as Burlington and Rutland. You know it's a lot of the larger districts that went down and yet the cost efficiencies are found in those larger districts," said Jeanne Collins, the superintendent of Burlington schools.

Lawmakers are again looking at school governance reform though numerous past efforts have failed.

Others are calling for changes in the current funding system to include spending caps, a reduction in the income sensitivity threshold and a reduction in Vermont's smallest-in-the-nation student-teacher ratio.

Related Stories:

Many Vt. school budgets go down in defeat

Vt. voters weigh in on school budgets

Increased school budgets spike property tax rates

Town Meeting Day 2014 results

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