MONTPELIER — The first meeting of a legislative task force commissioned to implement new per-pupil weights for public PreK-12 school districts will be held Tuesday at 9 a.m.
The task force, established by bill S. 13 and signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott, incudes eight members of the House and Senate. Their charge is to draft legislation for implementing new weights developed in a 2019 University of Vermont report, taking into account how to ease the impact of those new weights on education property taxes.
The UVM report found that the current per-pupil weights — reflecting the added cost of educating children in poverty and new English language learners — were not based on empirical evidence. The proposed new weights would greatly increase the per-student allocation for children facing economic hardship and add weights for students in rural districts.
The weights are intended to increase taxing capacity for school districts in order to provide equal opportunity for students regardless of where they live. But school districts in rural areas, and in cities with large populations of new English language learners, say they have been underweighted for decades, leading to difficult choices between raising taxes or limiting programs and services.
State Reps. Emilie Kornheiser, D-Windham 2-1, and Kathleen James, D-Bennington 4, were appointed to the panel. They will be joined by Reps. Scott Beck and Peter Conlon, and Sens. Randy Brock, Ruth Hardy, Cheryl Hooker, and Andrew Perchlik. Lawmakers were selected from the financial and education committees of both chambers.
According to the meeting agenda, it will begin with the election of co-chairs. The agenda also provides for a walk-through of its charge and briefings from the Office of Legislative Counsel and the Joint Fiscal Office.
The meeting can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCgHFernWVwH5MD0Se9NmVhg/videos?view=57.
Those wishing to participate in the public comment section of the meeting should contact Sorsha Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.