VISA update: Senate passes mascot ban bill, PCB testing may be delayed

This is from the March 12, 2022, update from the Vermont Independent Schools Association.

A bill prohibiting use of “the likeness, features, symbols, traditions or other characteristics” referencing a group of people as school mascots was passed by the Senate this week. The Secretary of Education is directed to create by August 1 a model policy allowing individuals to file complaints and schools must then adopt by January 1, 2023 their own policies that meet or exceed the model policy requirements.

The Senate also passed S.283, which adds approved independent schools and qualified prekindergarten programs to the schools covered by existing statute (16 V.S.A. § 1162) relating to student misconduct that can be addressed by suspension or expulsion.

Both bills now will be taken up by the House Education Committee.

PCB Testing May Be Delayed Two Years – Independent School Responses Have Lagged

Completion of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) testing of school buildings built or renovated before 1980 may be delayed up to two years. In testimony this week to the two legislative Education Committees, Dept. of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Walke recommended pushing deadlines forward by two years to 2026. The delay is needed Walke said because of the large number of schools that need testing—318 schools identified so far with another 70 yet to be heard from. Many of those remaining 70 are independent schools. VISA has offered to work with the DEC staff to assist with school contacts.

Commissioner Walke said six to eight weeks typically is needed to survey a single school building and obtain a result. Applying that to nearly 400 schools, plus the follow-up needed to assist those schools with positive tests, means a sizeable and larger than previously anticipated time and resource commitment by the DEC.

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