Senate plan: School districts without 2021 budgets may level-fund

By Guy Page

Many Vermonters have been wondering how towns that voted down school budgets, or had votes scheduled before social-distancing was required, will set their budgets for the coming year. The Legislature is working on that — and (as often happens) the House and the Senate have different solutions for the same problem, Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) reported April 28.

Nineteen Vermont school districts are in limbo, without a budget in place for FY21 (nine were defeated, ten had yet to vote when the pandemic put ballot plans on hold). As of today, the House and Senate Education Committees have two different ideas in play.

The Senate would establish a default budget based on current FY20 levels, while allowing districts to seek voter approval for new budgets after June 30.

Guy Page

The House would give the district boards three options: 1. Use the FY20 amount; 2. If the budget was defeated, adopt an FY21 budget at an amount that’s lower; or 3. If the budget was warned but not yet voted upon, adopt an FY21 budget at an amount that doesn’t exceed. In any of these three cases, the board could simply make the call, or take the budget to voters via one of the methods allowed by the Secretary of State.

According to Grad, “there is support for the more-flexible House version from superintendents and board chairs in these districts, as well as from the Vermont NEA, and the Vermont School Boards Association. It’s our belief that it puts these districts on a more-level playing field with districts that were able to vote their budgets pre-pandemic.”

2020 education revenue down $40 million, shortfall expected next year

On April 9 the Joint Fiscal Office outlined the expected Education Fund shortfalls for this year and 2021: “The EF is now projected to close FY2020 with a $39.5 million deficit. Moreover, if $53.5 million in deferred consumption taxes are not fully remitted to the State at the end of June, this fund deficit could grow even larger. In FY2021, COVID-19 related loss of consumption tax revenues is expected to be even more severe. In addition, the collection of property tax revenues is uncertain because many property taxpayers may be unable to make timely payments.”

“Voters have already approved a $73 million increase in education spending in FY2021. Even if it were possible to reduce education spending next year, those efforts could be constrained by existing teachers’ contracts since salaries and benefits alone account for nearly 80% of education spending.”

A JFO update on projected revenue is expected soon, and will provide a basis for legislative spending decisions, lawmakers soon.

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2 thoughts on “Senate plan: School districts without 2021 budgets may level-fund

  1. So our district and apparently 18 others did not like what was being forced down their throats. They were specifically told if you don’t like what is being proposed in the schools the proper thing to do is tell them in the ballot box.

    So our district is also Maxine Grad’s turf.

    The people I our area were apoplectic about the actions of our school boards and rightfully so. What is the solution?

    Any thing and everything except listening to the wish of the voters. Seriously, oh let’s level fund, let’s do it with inflation, let’s hold another vote. This has NOTHING to do with cOvid-19

    This is so grossly an over step of power, it displays the true intent of our legislature, they will and are going to strip all input from the citizens. Yeah, meanwhile they are teaching your 4 year old hoe to self pleasure themselves via UN mandate on schooling. Oh and the advance art of twerking while reading stories where adults show off their fantasies.

    This is not natural.

    Affordability , School Funding, Drugs. Are and will continue to be Vermont’s issues. We are breaking the laws of nature, science, fiscal management math, and God himself.

    We reap what we sow.

    We have the freedom the freedom to assemble. When we chose not to exercise our rights fully, frequently and vigorously we get sand kicked in our face. How many times before we stand up and say No!

    One person standing on the lawn of Montpelier ain’t gonna do it. Writing stupid or smart comments in online publications doesn’t do anything either. We have to get off our -sis and work together, clearly they are put to steal our lunch money, our book bag and our bicycle.

    • To clarify. Our district overwhelmingly voted down our budget for the sole purpose they were told to do so if they did not like the actions of the board, otherwise they were getting what the board wanted.

      I suspect it is similar across the state. Our towns rarely voted down any school budget or spending for anything really. This is highly unusual. We reside in one of the deepest blue parts of the entire country let alone Vermont!

      People in our area are extremely, extremely upset with what is going on. So they voted the budget down with vengeance.

      Now the state says, oh well too bad, we’re going to fund them and do what we want anyway. Interesting huh?

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