House freezes school privatization debate


The question of whether voters should be allowed to "flip" public schools into private entities has churned for months in Vermont. After lengthy debate on the House floor Wednesday, the issue has been tabled. For now.

To date, two Vermont schools have gone from public to private: Winhall in 1998 and North Bennington in 2013. Westford is now considering the same step.

The Senate after much negotiation produced a study committee to look deeper into the constitutionality of both sides: "flipping" a school, as senators came to call it, and prohibiting the flips.

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, introduced an amendment Wednesday before the House chamber's preliminary vote on the bill. He suggested removing a two-year moratorium on school privatization, and keeping the study.

After a break and several minutes of informal huddles, a motion was made to order the bill "to lie." It's a rare move in the House, and most often means legislation gets put on ice and left there to freeze.

Representatives agreed overwhelmingly on a voice vote to shelve S.91.

There's little time left for the bill to be revived and renegotiated, but that technically still could happen in a committee of conference - if it gets out of the House. Any bills not passed this spring will be swept off the table at the end of the biennium.

Unless lawmakers take up S.91 again, neither the moratorium nor the proposed study will take effect.


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