Vermont school enrollment: Equalized pupils 2003-2013
The amount that a school district spends per pupil determines its school tax rates. School districts with the same per pupil spending have the same tax rates. That is why an independent analysis concluded last January that Vermont’s school financing system “has achieved a high degree of equity.”
When calculating spending per student, Vermont uses “equalized pupils” rather than the actual head count in each school. While based on a straight student count, the formula for “equalized pupils” gives less weight to pre-kindergarten pupils and extra weight to students in secondary school, those from economically deprived backgrounds, and those whose first language is not English. The principle behind the weighting is that it costs more to educate students in certain categories.
Because it is often difficult for schools to cut costs quickly in response to a drop in enrollment, Vermont limits the loss of equalized pupils in a school in any given year. As a result, a school may have more equalized pupils than actual students during a particular school year. Vermont’s public school enrollment peaked in the mid-1990s and has been declining since. Most Vermont schools have fewer equalized pupils this year than they did 10 years ago. However, 32 towns have seen an increase in students—equalized pupils—during that period.
The town2town map shows the change in equalized pupils in each town from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2013. As you hover your cursor over each town, you will see the name of the town, the percent change in equalized pupils over the decade, equalized pupils in fiscal 2003, and equalized pupils in the current school year, fiscal 2013.
Data source: Vermont Department of Education