Voluntary school consolidation bill dies in House


A much-amended education governance bill did not survive the clock Saturday in Montpelier.

After H.876 made it through the Senate, a majority of House members voted not to suspend procedural rules to take up the legislation in time for the evening's scheduled adjournment.

Any similar effort to introduce school governance reforms will have to start fresh during the next legislative session, under a new lineup of lawmakers who win office in the fall.

The governance reform initiative -- a response to continued increases in education property tax rates -- gained momentum after Town Meeting Day, when 36 school districts rejected proposed budgets.

House members, reasoning that consolidation would make education more efficient, voted to merge Vermont's 270-plus school district boards into roughly 50 new supervisory district boards over six years.

It was a no-go in the Senate, where lawmakers instead tacked a much diluted, voluntary consolidation plan onto the annual bill that carries miscellaneous changes to education laws.

The process took longer than the session's stated deadline allowed, however. And there wasn't enough support in the House -- among any party -- to push it through.


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