House Committee Reviews School Choice Bill

04/03/02 12:00AM

(Host) Supporters of an expanded school choice bill say they hope to bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote in the very near future. The proposal would allow students to go to any public school in the state.

Under the current school choice law, money does not follow the student to a new school. The state block grant remains with the student's old school. This bill would transfer 90% of the block grant if a student chooses to go to a different public school.

Speaking last night on VPR's Switchboard program, House Education Committee Chairman Howard Crawford said the bill would have a positive impact on the state's education system:

(Crawford) "While some schools will be net losers in terms of student enrollment, I believe that the adjustments schools will be able to make that lose students are going to question why students are leaving. We think that's a positive spin off a self-examination of why did 6 or 7 students over the years choose to leave our school. But I believe it will be positive first for students and their families most importantly for students and their families."

(Host) But Winooski Representative George Cross argued that many of Vermont's smaller schools might have a very difficult time coping with a loss of money if a number of their students transfer to another school:

(Cross) "So we have a money kind of issue in Vermont. When money goes from one school district to another, the school district that loses the money will not necessarily be able to reduce its budget. Therefore the people in that district are going to have to raise money in order to pay for those kids who leave to go somewhere else."

(Host) The legislation is currently being reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee. It's possible that the committee will vote on this issue by the end of the week.
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