Investing in universal pre-K (Act 166) was not only the right thing to do for Vermont — it was a smart choice to make.
The property tax implications of transferring money out of the education fund generated some criticism. The bill also aims to iron out issues with implementing universal preschool.
More children are becoming wards of the state, mainly due to the opiate crisis.
Some providers didn’t finish the needed security checks by the start of the school year. The superintendents association says that’s a problem, while the state says affected districts can simply delay the new pre-K program.
The program starts this fall and is available to all families, regardless of income.
If too much is required of early education providers, they could be driven out of business. But getting the most benefit for children means ensuring public dollars are well spent.
House Speaker Shap Smith and others turned to the board after hearing that the law is entrenching economic inequities, although some educators say there’s no hard evidence. Either way, the board chairman says this would be new territory.
All-day pre-kindergarten helps low-income children be prepared to start school, educators say. But the clock is ticking on programs funded with a federal grant that ends in three years.
Many local districts are in a Catch 22. Two of the laws — that mandate pre-K and early college (known as “dual”) enrollment programs — cost money to implement. The third law, Act 46, the school district consolidation law, puts a cap on local school district spending. The end result? Schools that implement pre-K and dual enrollment could be whacked by tax penalties.
Vermont may be one of the early national adopters of statewide public pre-K if the program launches completely next year, but the districts involved in this fall’s rollout are discovering the stumbling blocks in the meantime.
VTDigger compiles a rundown of what made the cut: new rules for opiate reporting; Act 250 regulations for oil pipeline and renewable energy projects; a new thermal efficiency program; labeling of genetically engineered food; pre-K expansion.
The expansion of pre-K programs would spur a quarter of a cent increase in the statewide property tax for each of the next five years, beginning in fiscal year 2015.