ERIC Number: ED452580
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Vermont's Act 60: Early Effects of Comprehensive School Finance Reform.
Mathis, William J.
A unanimous 1997 state Supreme Court decision declaring Vermont's educational funding system unconstitutional prompted the legislature to pass Act 60 establishing state block grants and a guaranteed tax-yield system. Act 60 is working to provide equity in tax burdens and in tax rates. A variety of transitional features have helped to buffer wealthier towns from immediate, substantial local property-tax increases required to provide poorer towns with nearly-equivalent educational funding. The preliminary data indicate differences in spending are diminishing. A 1999 study by Lorna Jimerson indicates that historically poor schools are now making investments in maintenance and repairs. Act 60 requires a state-testing program, demands implementation of standards, provides technical assistance, and relies on direct state intervention when necessary. The Jimerson study found that districts were actively pursuing data-driven instructional improvement efforts. Earlier efforts to circumvent the capture of local tax revenue for funding equalization by raising private funds have been abandoned by all but a few schools, even as the legislature considers capping such gifts. Many districts object to funding caps on statewide support for special education, and relaxation of the caps, with additional monitoring, appears forthcoming. A projected 24 percent increase in health-insurance premiums may absorb a substantial portion of the equalization in funding. Recommendations for harmonizing property value assessments are currently being implemented. To address the vulnerability of small schools under per-student funding plans, the state provides an extra-student count multiplier for schools with fewer than 20 students per grade level. (TEJ)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Vermont