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Martine Gulick – CVTSE Press Conference 9/30/2021

Statement of Martine Larocque GulickBurlington School District

Hello, my name is Martine Larocque Gulick. I am a Burlington School Commissioner and a
member of the Coalition for Vermont Student Equity. I will be acting as MC today, and including
myself, there are five speakers.

In short, I am here to thank the task force on the implementation of the pupil weighting
factors report for their hard work this summer and to ask them to listen to Vermonters who
have been harmed by decades of inequity. We are asking them to correct the flawed funding
formula. As you may know, in 2019, at the request of the legislature, a report was written by a
team led by experts at UVM and Rutgers that definitively concluded Vermont does not properly
account for the costs of educating children who attend rural schools, children who come from
low-income households and children who require English language learning services. The
formula used by the state to distribute education funds has been wrong for over 20 years.

As an educator of over 30 years and someone who has worked in overweighted districts and
who lives in an underweighted district I have a unique perspective and I have seen firsthand the
effects of this inequitable funding formula. For example, I have seen the ease with which
overweighted districts can add staff to their schools and create positions that allow them to meet
education quality standards. I have personally experienced working in a library with a budget 10
times that of the library in my local high school. I have seen staff in underweighted districts
doing the work of two or three staff members in an overweighted district. This inequitable
formula stretches some districts, places unnecessary burdens on staff and ultimately has an
impact on student achievement. For years I was baffled by the discrepancies I saw in funding
between districts, and now that I understand the flaws in the weighting system, I understand the
origin of these inequities.

The words equity and inclusion appear to be central to the work we do as educators, and I have
heard them used hundreds of times by school leaders and administrators. Are they conveniently
being used to quiet historically marginalized communities or are we truly committed to equity
and inclusion? We have an opportunity to put our words into action.

If we are truly committed to improving student outcomes and narrowing the opportunity gap for
all Vermont students we must implement the more equitable formula as recommended in the
2019 Pupil Weighting Factors Report.