Education is necessary not just to live a satisfying and productive life, but also to participate meaningfully as a citizen in our democracy. Vermont is fortunate that its public school financing system provides an adequate, sustainable source of funding and is fairer to both taxpayers and pupils than any other system in the country. Vermont needs to ensure the continued integrity and health of its school funding system and provide a way to make college accessible and affordable to all Vermonters.

February 24, 2022

The Legislature is actually looking at two big changes to education funding this session. There are misconceptions about each, but both, if done right, can strengthen the school funding system and make it fairer.

The change that has generated the most attention and discussion is a plan to provide more money to students who require additional resources, such as English-language learners, kids from poor families, and those attending small, rural schools. The money isn’t really the sticking point, although there are questions about the latest cost estimate for teaching English as a second language. The main point of disagreement is how to distribute additional resources to the districts that need them. One approach, student weighting, is more complicated for voters and tends to favor high-spending school districts. The other option, cost equity aid, would provide fixed payments per pupil for various categories of students, which would be more transparent and easier for voters to follow, and it wouldn’t exacerbate disparities in per-pupil spending among districts.

The other important change being considered doesn’t involve the distribution of education funds, but how those funds are generated.