ST. JOHNSBURY - Changes could potentially be coming to local independent schools in the area, although many people are opposed to them. These changes include a need for an evaluation by a national accrediting entity to provide financial assurance, as well as the need of special education teachers at public schools and teaching license requirements at independent school.
The state Board of Education held a public forum last night to receive feedback on potential rule changes to independent schools around the Northeast Kingdom.
Stephan Morse, the Vermont State Board education chair said at the forum last night, "We're eager to hear from you tonight, and then go back and do some drafting, bring it back to the full board, and then start the long rule making process."
Tom Lovett, the St. johnsbury Academy Headmaster added, "as it's now written, it would require that I get a state teachers license, as would all of my faculty. We would not comply with such a law, as it's a broad over breach that would waste resources and not improve the quality of education here."
Over 80 people signed up to speak at St. Johnsbury Academy's Fuller Hall. The majority of people at the forum were upset and opposed to the potential rule changes.
Chris Watson from St. Johnsbury said, "Forcing smaller independent schools to comply with broad special ed requirements and expensive audits that only larger public institutions can afford is a greasy, backdoor way of attacking independent schools."
Despite the overwhelming majority of the crowd against the changes, there were some for the changes. Including the Vermont The American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU.
"With these proposed rules, the state board is proactively taking steps to ensure an equitable education is available to all publicly funded students, publicly funded students constitutional rights are upheld wherever they attend school, and government remains transparent."
Each person was given two minutes to speak, however, there was a lot on people's minds resulting in people going over the two-minute limit, causing some issues with the crowd.
Julie, a crowd member, felt compelled to say to everyone, "Excuse me, as part of the crowd, I would like to hear from everyone else. You’ve been going for three and a half minutes now and there are 80 people who would like to speak, I don't know why you think you can afford."
The reoccurring message echoed throughout the night along with hopes that the school board reconsiders these rule changes and realizes the effect it will have on the Northeast Kingdom
The board is set to review all comments made at the meeting. And will discuss changes to the rules before next weeks formal presentation to the education board.