Opinion: School funding must be changed

As the debate over school funding heats up I would like to add my voice to those who view our school taxes too high AND unfairly allocated. I believe the two problems are interrelated.
I have been advised that approximately two-thirds of Vermont residents, those with incomes up to about $105,000 per year, pay school taxes based on their income. I do not know how many households pay little or no school tax but it is probably a considerable number. This is a classic case whereby a well-meaning law removes the incentive for citizens to take their part in governmental accountability.
It is apparent to me that many small school districts operate with too few students and an excessive bureaucracy. These districts should be merged with other too-small districts and the administrative burden reduced. Many residents, however, have no stake in the costs of their schools and thus no interest in efficiency; put bluntly, “they have no skin in the game.” I believe that ALL households should pay SOMETHING toward the cost of education.
As a retired citizen who has never had a child in a Vermont school, I believe it is time to revise our approach to school funding, taking some recognition of the ability of a household to pay school taxes, but not to a degree that some households have no interest in reducing the increasing school tax burden on those who our Legislature has decided “can” pay.
Max Kraus, Middlebury

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