January 31, 2007

Education Governance in Vermont

Last evening I attended one of a series of 30 meetings around Vermont to discuss a proposal by Richard Cate, Commissioner of Education that would revamp and simplify school governance. As I've come to expect at public meetings, ~80% of the attendees have a vested interest in education as teachers, administrators, etc.

Cate's idea is a good one...to reduce the number of school governance entities from 284 to 63. The proposal is appealing , but perhaps does not go far enough. How about one school district for each of Vermont's 14 counties, at least for those counties that have a mish-mash of districts, supervisory unions, etc? If a town or city has a school district that matches town/city boundaries, let them remain as a coherent entity unless they chose to join a county district.

As expected, some 'invested' attendees wanted to inject school funding issues (shift from property to income tax) into the discussion rather than discuss education costs, which is where the problem is. One person even suggested that a change in governance would not lead to cost reductions. Methinks he really meant that he does not want to see Vermont's education budget come under control.

This study, commissioned by the Vermont Business Roundtable, is worth spending some time exploring.

The simple fact is that Vermont's K-12 education spending is out of control and the costs must be reigned in before there's a taxpayer revolt. Governance simplifications and good leadership are essential elements to accomplishing this.

Where's the leadership for drastic change? Commissioner Cate has started the governance conversation but does not vigorously challenge the status quo and champion change. Who will?
Post a Comment