In 2018/2019, at the behest of the Vermont Legislature, a group of nationally recognized experts in education research from UVM, Rutgers and National Institute for Research conducted a study of the weighting factors (how students with different needs are counted to determine the differential cost of educating them) used in Vermont’s education funding formula. This thorough report was delivered to the legislature in 2019 and concluded that the current pupil weights are outdated (over 20 years old), do not appear to be based on any scientific study, and do not reflect the contemporary costs to educate children who require additional resources. The report also provided specific recommendations to update and improve the weights used to determine “equalized pupils”, a key measure in the state’s education funding formula. The report concluded that our children who live in poverty, in rural communities, attend small schools and who are New American English Language Learners are not being provided with adequate resources to help them keep up with their peers. The report went beyond documenting the problem by also providing a conclusive solution and recommending new weights to be used in the funding formula to provide educational equity across districts.
Now in 2021, a legislative Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report has been convened to meet over the summer/fall to create a plan and proposed legislation to implement the reports recommendations. However, opponents are still trying to correct the issue by adding additional dollars into the already massive education fund, to target aid to struggling districts. CVTSE does not support using grants to try to solve this problem. As experienced in recent years, the targeted grants are subject to change and provide districts with no certainty with which to plan their futures. Districts need certainty. And real equity cannot be realized until we correct the actual flaw in the formula. Everything else is merely a bandaid.