Letter to the editor: School user fee merits study

I’ve been reading and ruminating on the discussions on the proposed withdrawal of Lincoln Community School from Mount Abraham Unified School District. I find the whole situation interestingly ironic. We homeschooled our kids right through high school, and the Lincoln school was seemingly supportive of this, as we never experienced any flack or intrusion from them.

The state Agency of Education (AOE) on the other hand decided they were within their rights to reinterpret statute, which is not their domain. We were pestered, and threatened with action from the Department for Children and Families by the appointed bureaucrats and wannabe interim commissioner at the time. No amount of quoting the statute to them made any difference, until a legal firm also quoted the statute to them on their letterhead… then, and only then, did AOE back off.

Now the Lincoln district finds itself in the sights of the power structure in Montpelier due to legislation of our elected representatives. I can sympathize with the town’s plight. I do agree that the financial impacts of the proposed withdrawal need to be clear cut on every level.

Also, I will bring up something I suggested a number of years ago at town meeting or a legislative roundtable discussion…I cannot remember which. The idea was that every property owner would have a base tax responsibility toward funding education, while the actual users of the system would have an additional user’s fee to further aid in the funding of the system. While I realize this will probably raise a few hairs, I think it is ideal in helping people to think through what they’re willing to pay for regarding what they want for their kids. I’ve noticed over the years how when some folks’ kids were in school they seemingly had no problem with any proposed budget, while after they were out of the system they had a different opinion about proposed school budgets. I think this would be an equitable approach to school funding, after all… I supported the school budget via my taxes while simultaneously paying for my kids’ education (including special ed) and never received any help (financially) from the state or town.

Just my two cents.

Jonathan Johnson


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