Roll Call: House makes town withdrawal from school districts more difficult

Editor’s note: Roll Call is published by the Ethan Allen Institute.

H.727, an act relating to the exploration, formation and organization of union school districts and unified union school districts, passed in the State House of Representatives on March 17, 2022, by a vote of 98-39.

The purpose of H.727 is to update how union schools districts (multi-town school district governed by one board) are formed and how towns can withdraw from school districts, following the adoption of Act 46 in 2015.

The controversy surrounded Article 3 of H.727, regarding town withdrawal. Current Vermont statute as drafted in 1967, requires that citizens of a town hoping to withdraw their town from a district must approach the State Board of Education and show that there is classroom space available to accommodate students moving to new schools. These individuals can bring the matter to the town for a vote. H.727 would require more analysis be completed before the proposed withdrawal goes to vote, and gives the State Board of Education a final say in that withdrawal process.

Analysis: Those voting YES believe Vermont’s union school district language needs a serious update from 1967, believe this is in the best interest of Vermont students. The town withdrawal language simply adds a requirement that those seeking to withdraw their town from a school district put forward complete information to local voters before there is a vote, so they can make a more fully informed decision.

Those voting NO objected to the added roadblocks for a town withdrawing from a school district. The proposed process for making a more fully informed decision will become much more difficult for smaller towns hoping to separate from their district. H.727 takes away local decision-making power and centralizes it in the State Board of Education, which will be given more of a final say in authorizing a separation.

As H.727 states “if the State Board determines that it is in the best interests of the State, the students, and the districts involved…” The House Education Committee did not hear any testimony from local town officials suggesting the further reporting requirement is necessary. Opponents suggested that the town of Lincoln’s 2020 separation from its district is an example of a thoroughly informed citizenry voting to separate, and suggested that other small towns will have a much more difficult time of withdrawing in the wake of H.727.

As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, March 17, 2022: “Pending the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?, Rep. Cordes of Lincoln demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number. The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 98. Nays, 39.” (Read the Journal, p. 648-653).

Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

HOW THEY VOTED

Sally Achey (R – Middletown Springs) – YES
Janet Ancel (D – Calais) – YES
Peter Anthony (D – Barre City) – NO
Norman Arrison (D – Weathersfield) – YES
Sarita Austin (D – Colchester) – YES
John Bartholomew (D – Hartland) – YES
Scott Beck (R – St. Johnsbury) – YES
Matthew Birong (D – Vergennes) – YES
Alyssa Black (D – Essex) – YES
Tiffany Bluemle (D – Burlington) – YES
Thomas Bock (D – Chester) – YES
Seth Bongartz (D – Manchester) – YES
Michelle Bos-Lun (D – Westminster) – YES
Erin Brady (D – Williston) – YES
Patrick Brennan (R – Colchester) – YES
Timothy Briglin (D – Thetford) – YES
Jana Brown (D – Richmond) – YES
Nelson Brownell (D – Pownal) – ABSENT
Jessica Brumsted (D – Shelburne) – YES
Thomas Burditt (R – West Rutland) – ABSENT
Mollie Burke (P/D – Brattleboro) – NO
Elizabeth Burrows (P/D – West Windsor) – NO
Scott Campbell (D – St. Johnsbury) – YES
Bill Canfield (R – Fair Haven) – YES
Seth Chase (D – Colchester) – YES
Kevin “Coach” Christie (D – Hartford) – YES
Brian Cina (P/D – Burlington) – NO
Sara Coffey (D – Guilford) – YES
Selene Colburn (P/D – Burlington) – NO
Hal Colston (D – Winooski) – ABSENT
Peter Conlon (D – Cornwall) – YES
Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D – Bradford) – YES
Timothy Corcoran (D – Bennington) – YES
Mari Cordes (D/P – Lincoln) – NO
Lawrence Cupoli (R – Rutland City) – YES
Lynn Dickinson (R – St. Albans Town) – YES
Karen Dolan (D – Essex) – YES
Kari Dolan (D – Waitsfield) – YES
Anne Donahue (R – Northfield) – YES
Kate Donnally (D – Hyde Park) – YES
David Durfee (D – Shaftsbury) – YES
Caleb Elder (D – Starksboro) – NO
Alice Emmons (D – Springfield) – YES
Peter Fagan (R – Rutland City) – YES
Martha Feltus (R – Lyndon) – YES
John Gannon (D – Wilmington) – YES
Rey Garofano (D – Essex) – YES
Leslie Goldman (D – Bellows Falls) – YES
Kenneth Goslant (R – Northfield) – YES
Maxine Grad (D – Moretown) – YES
Rodney Graham (R – Williamstown) – YES
James Gregoire (R – Fairfield) – YES
Lisa Hango (R – Berkshire) – NO
James Harrison (R – Chittenden) – YES
Robert Helm (R – Fair Haven) – YES
Mark Higley (R – Lowell) – NO
Robert Hooper (D – Burlington) – YES
Mary Hooper (D – Montpelier) – ABSENT
Philip Hooper (D – Randolph) – YES
Lori Houghton (D – Essex) – YES
Mary Howard (D – Rutland) – YES
Kathleen James (D – Manchester) – YES
Stephanie Jerome (D – Brandon) – YES
Kimberly Jessup (D – Middlesex) – NO
John Kascenska (R – Burke) – YES
John Killacky (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Charles Kimbell (D – Woodstock) – YES
Warren Kitzmiller (D – Montpelier) – ABSENT
Emilie Kornheiser (D – Brattleboro) – YES
Jill Krowinski (D – Burlington) – PRESIDING
Larry Labor (R – Morgan) – NO
Robert LaClair (R – Barre) – NO
Martin LaLonde (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Diane Lanpher (D – Vergennes) –YES
Wayne LaRoche (R – Franklin) – NO
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – NO
Samantha Lefebvre (R – Orange) – NO
Felisha Leffler (R – Enosburgh) – NO
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Emily Long (D – Newfane) – YES
Michael Marcotte (R – Coventry) – NO
Marcia Martel (R – Waterford) – NO
James Masland (D – Thetford) – YES
Christopher Mattos (R – Milton) – YES
Michael McCarthy (D – St. Albans City) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Patricia McCoy (R – Poultney) – YES
James McCullough (D – Williston) – YES
Francis McFaun (R – Barre Town) – NO
Leland Morgan (R – Milton) – NO
Michael Morgan (R – Milton) – NO
Kristi Morris (D – Springfield) – YES
Mary Morrissey (R – Bennington) – NO
Michael Mrowicki (D – Putney) – NO
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (D – Burlington) – NO
Barbara Murphy (I – Fairfax) – YES
Logan Nicoll (D – Ludlow) – NO
Michael Nigro (D – Bennington) – YES
Robert Norris (R – Sheldon) – NO
Terry Norris (I – Shoreham) – YES
William Notte (D – Rutland) – YES
Daniel Noyes (D – Wolcott) – YES
John O’Brien (D – Tunbridge) – YES
Carol Ode (D – Burlington) – YES
“Woody” Page (R – Newport City) – YES
Kelly Pajala (I – Londonderry) – NO
John Palasik (R – Milton) – ABSENT
Joseph Parsons (R – Newbury) – NO
Carolyn Partridge (D – Windham) – YES
Avram Patt (D – Worcester) – NO
Henry Pearl (D – Danville) – ABSENT
Arthur Peterson (R – Clarendon) – YES
Ann Pugh (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Barbara Rachelson (D/P – Burlington) – YES
Lucy Rogers (D – Waterville) – NO
Carl Rosenquist (R – Georgia) – NO
Larry Satcowitz (D – Randolph) – YES
Robin Scheu (D – Middlebury) – YES
Heidi Scheuermann (R – Stowe) – YES
Charles “Butch” Shaw (R – Pittsford) – YES
Amy Sheldon (D – Middlebury) – YES
Laura Sibilia (I – Dover) – NO
Katherine Sims (D – Craftsbury) – NO
Taylor Small (P/D – Winooski) – NO
Brian Smith (R – Derby) – NO
Harvey Smith (R – New Haven) – ABSENT
Trevor Squirrell (D – Underhill) – YES
Gabrielle Stebbins (D – Burlington) – YES
Thomas Stevens (D – Waterbury) – YES
Vicki Strong (R – Albany) – NO
Linda Joy Sullivan (D – Dorset) – ABSENT
Heather Suprenant (D – Barnard) – NO
Curt Taylor (D – Colchester) – YES
Thomas Terenzini (R – Rutland Town) – ABSENT
George Till (D – Jericho) – YES
Tristan Toleno (D – Brattleboro) – YES
Casey Toof (R – St. Albans Town) – YES
Maida Townsend (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D – Stannard) – YES
Tanya Vyhovsky (P/D – Essex) – NO
Matt Walker (R – Swanton) – ABSENT
Tommy Walz (D – Barre City) – YES
Kathryn Webb (D – Shelburne) – YES
Kirk White (P/D – Bethel) – YES
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – ABSENT
Dane Whitman (D – Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R – Granby) – YES
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – NO
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES

Image courtesy of TNR
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One thought on “Roll Call: House makes town withdrawal from school districts more difficult

  1. Well, we finally have the dark blue and dark red in bed with each other………did you notice most of the “no” votes were D/P?

    A little confused as to why anybody would want to continue the inefficient system of small schools that spend to much money on brick and mortar and not enough on educating students……just so that the privileged can keep their Norman Rockwellesque vision of rural living alive…….

    We should be working towards affordable schools for the everyday people to send their kiddos to……..even if they have to ride another 10 minutes on a bus……

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