School Zone Shrinkage

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state houseVERMONT - After receiving a preliminary approval vote of 88-55, the House of Representatives passed the major change in Vermonts school systems. Vermont School System consolidation is intended to expand the school districts and shrink spending.

The bill, known as H.361, would shrink the 270-plus school districts into a few dozen disctricts. Currently only a dozen districts currently meet the 1,100 student minimum. Districts that don't wish to merge must seek approval from the State Board of Education.

"Any school district that wishes to merge or recombine as proposed here or in any other way should do so to the benefit of their communities and their students," State Representative Cynthia Browning, a Democrat in favor of local control and not the consolidation, said. "However, I don't think school districts that are performing satisfactorily in the eyes of their communities should be forced into a reorganization they do not see as beneficial in order to satisfy the directions of this assembly."

With the main debate on whether to consolidate or not was that the restructuring should be up to local communities.

The bill has many critics, but majority agrees something has to be done to fix Vermonts education spending of about $19,000 per pupil. Vermont also has an expensive student to staff ratio of 4.7 to 1.

For more information on the current bill, please visit: http://watchdog.org/209978/forced-consolidation-vermont-schools/