This is from the March 26, 2022, update from the Vermont Independent Schools Association.
A bill that puts “guardrails” around tuitioning to religious independent schools and expands dual enrollment passed the Senate after a long gestation in the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. Presenting the bill on the Senate floor, Education Committee chair Sen. Brian Campion (D-Bennington) said the bill’s main purpose was to put what he termed “guardrails” around permissible uses of public funds in religious schools. The bill will next be referred to the House where it likely will be taken up by the House Education Committee.
Campion explained to the Senate his committee considered three options concerning religious school tuitioning: do nothing, ban tuitioning entirely, or craft something in between. He said the first two options were unacceptable to the committee. “Stopping public funds would displace thousands of students, illegally turn independent schools public, prevent students from attending certain special education schools and likely saddle the State of Vermont with debilitating lawsuits,” he stated.
The bill also removes long-standing restrictions on student eligibility for the dual enrollment program, now opening the program to all Vermont high school juniors and seniors. Additionally, the bill limits out-of-state tuitioning only to independent schools in Vermont’s neighboring states and in Quebec.
Strong opposition to S.219 was voiced by Senator Ruth Hardy (D-Addison). She said she could not support the bill “because it further entangles our public school financing system with private and more egregiously religious schools.” Instead, she said “We should be exploring and cementing a path for eliminating our current system of tuition. There is precedent to do this while still preserving the academies and the other schools.”
“There is no path forward to preserve academies, to preserve this school, to preserve that school,” Campion replied. “It is just not feasible.”
Stanstead College Names Next Head
Following the announcement that school head Michael Wolfe will retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year, the Stanstead College board of directors has selected associate head Joanne Tracy Carruthers to be the next head.
Stanstead College, located very close to the U.S.-Canada border in Stanstead, Quebec, is principally a boarding high school, which also annually enrolls a dozen or so Vermont day students who commute primarily from Coventry and Montgomery.
Carruthers has been with Stanstead for over 25 years, initially in the admissions office and later as admissions director. She was named associate head in 2019 and served as acting head during a Michael Wolfe sabbatical. “Joanne will be the first woman to be head of school of Stanstead College,” remarked board chair Jonathan Cowen, “a milestone that is long overdue.”