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Editorial: Is H.833 a step toward reform?

This year the Legislature has successfully crafted a viable bill, H.883, that focuses the public’s attention on education reform. That’s no easy task, and it’s to the credit of the House Education Committee under the leadership of Rep. Johannah Donovan, D-Burlington. That committee, along with its Senate counterpart, has been studying ways to bend the curve on education spending for the past several years, and, as importantly, craft a system that uses the money spent educating Vermont students more effectively.
H.833 focuses the discussion on consolidation of school governance, not schools. The initiative would consolidate the state’s current 273 school districts into roughly 50 by 2020.
While changing the governance structure will not save any significant amount of money in itself, supporters say it will change the conversation and allow for needed educational reform to bring the state’s antiquated system into the 21st century.
Others oppose the bill for many of those same reasons: that is, fewer school districts mean less local control and could likely mean worse educational outcomes.
The Addison Independent, along with its sister newspapers — the St. Albans Messenger, the Milton Independent, Essex Reporter, Colchester Sun, Brandon Reporter, andMountain Times of Killington — file a couple stories in today’s issue (written jointly by several reporters) on how superintendents in our coverage areas perceive H.883 and the need for educational reform.
We encourage readers to spend the time to pore over their concerns and support, and to weigh in with your own comments (via letters to the editor or comments at www.addisonindependent.com). It’s one of the most timely and important issues in the state — and, for the first time in years, the legislature is on the verge of actually doing something about it.
— Angelo S. Lynn

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