Contact David Schoales (email@example.com)
Jack Bryar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
New date for Equity and Efficiency: Alternatives to Consolidation Under Act 46 Conference
The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members, (AVSBM) a statewide association of elected and former school board members and supporters, announced that the planned Conference of School Boards and SUs affected by Act 46 that was originally scheduled to take place on February 24, is being postponed until March 17, 2018. The meeting will take place at the Montpelier High School beginning at 10 am.
AVSBM Coordinator Jack Bryar said, “The flu has been a real factor in our decision. We have had members and presenters affected. However, in some ways, a later date works better. We want to make sure that newly elected Board members coming on board after Town Meeting get invitations and join in the discussions. The decisions being made at the state level about local governance will top the agenda of a large percentage of the elected school board members in the state.”
Roughly a third of Vermont school systems either have or anticipate petitioning state government officials to approve these “AGS” proposals in preference to forced consolidation under Vermont’s Act 46. The fate of these proposals is uncertain. Much of the debate about “Alternative Governance” has focused less on the quality or efficiency of different local governance models and instead have centered around how to craft proposals that will be accepted by state authorities.
While a handful of AGS proposals have already been accepted by state officials, many others are pending. Local school board leaders who have been approved caution other boards that crafting even the best-designed proposal is only the beginning of the approval process.
The conference will include a pair of panels. One will be focused on legal and technical issues that AGS applicants may encounter. A second will focus on understanding, and successfully negotiating with, the State Board and other Vermont state education officials. Panel members will include legal experts, school board members, administrators and government officials.
The conference organizers expect there will be a lively Q&A session afterwards.
David Clark, an AVSBM member and Chair of the Bellows Falls School Board said,
“School boards are in a difficult spot. There hasn’t been a lot of information provided to those communities who want to retain some measure of local control or who have developed unique proposals that would work for them but might look unusual to outside bureaucrats. No one is looking out for their interests, and we are going to try to fill in that gap.”
The conference hopes to attract:
• Boards Study Committees and community supporters from districts who have filed partial or complete AGS applications and who are concerned about how to ensure their proposals are accepted by state authorities.
• Study Committees and Boards still considering AGS as an option
• Districts still trying to figure out how to address their governance issues.
• Boards of SU’s being pressured to undergo additional restructuring
Alliance member David Schoales said,”Local schools and local boards deserve to have the information they need to be a full partner in the Act 46 process. The goal of our conference is to make sure that Board members hear about successful strategies used by other boards, and to know what legal and political resources may be available to help them get their proposals approved.”
According to Bryar, one of the advantages of the postponement is that it will give the Alliance a chance to add to the agenda.
Bryar said, “We are hearing that, in addition to schools facing uncertainty about their Alternative Governance proposals, there are a number of the consolidating small schools who are are being told that their good-faith efforts may not be enough. There is a real concern that smaller Supervisory Unions may face forcible dissolution and consolidation. It is causing additional disruption and demoralization with educational staff across the state looking over their shoulders and polishing their resumes. This is hardly a recipe for responsibly managing our educational system. School board members are telling us they are being blindsided by an issue that wasn’t even on their agenda and which could affect districts that thought they’d put their Act 46 issues behind them. We hope to be able to identify resources that schools can use to better understand and address this latest challenge”
Those interested in learning more about the Conference are urged to contact the Alliance at email@example.com, or to call 802-843-2735. In coming days the Alliance will post additional materials on this website.
About the Alliance
The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members is a growing statewide network of local school board members, former board members and community advocates dedicated to empowering local school boards so that they can continue to make Vermont public schools among the best in the United States. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 PM, October 24, 2017
Contact: Jack Bryar , Research Director
VSBA Meeting Rejects Calls for Greater Accountability
In the face of opposition by the AVSBM and a continuing boycott by large numbers of Vermont school boards, barely 30 voting members at the Vermont School Board Association Conference at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont, ratified a series of Board-sponsored resolutions that called for greater restrictions and more state oversight of school boards, restrictions on union bargaining and approved an ALEC-sponsored bill designed to promote privatization.
By contrast, all the resolutions actually proposed by member school boards in the state were prevented from reaching the floor for a vote.
According to BFUHS Board Chair David Clark, it was, “Another terrible, self-inflicted wound by an organization that was supposed to be the voice of Vermont local school board directors. It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive rejection of the VSBA’s accountability to its member boards.”
Among the rejected proposals was a plea for greater representation by public school boards on the VSBA and a request that the state report out the real economic consequences generated by Act 46.
David Schoales, a school board member from Brattleboro, said he was astonished that the the VSBA would not even go on the record to ask if Act 46 was achieving its goals.
"What does it say when the organization representing school boards does not want to even talk about having the legislature report on the fiscal effects of the Act 46? The Vermont League of Cities and Towns included this in their 2018 VLCT Municipal Policy document for the upcoming legislative session. Why not the school boards?"
In spite of the vote, most of the speakers at the conference spoke in opposition to the suppression of local board proposals and against the VSBA governing board-sponsored resolutions which , according to an attendee from Orange County, “Amounted to acquiescing to state-mandated cost cutting and distracted from the mission of the VSBA.”
Clark added, “The Resolutions adopted by the VSBA can’t be taken seriously as representing the views of actual school boards. They would hobble school board’s ability to set budgets, to hire or replace staff, to conduct negotiations or even provide basic oversight of taxpayer money. The VSBA resolutions amount to a declaration by The Vermont School Board Association that Vermont school boards are no longer competent to responsibly conduct their lawful business .”
The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members (The Alliance) which has been trying to reform the VSBA and make it more accountable to local boards, had circulated a white paper on the impact of the VSBA proposals. They pointed out that that several of the resolutions used language similar to anti-public school lobbying organizations such as ALEC, the Koch Brothers organization.
According to the Alliance the VSBA proposals would:
According to the Alliance, the resolutions should not be taken seriously by the legislature or the public as representing anything other than the degree to which the VSBA has drifted from its mission to faithfully represent and advocate for school boards.
Local school board members should be outraged by overtly politicized resolutions designed to demonize school boards across the state and blame them for state failures to support public education. The Alliance will be sending its report on the VSBA resolutions to local school boards across the state to alert them to what is being said in the their name. They urge local school boards to contact their legislators as soon as possible.
For more information
Please go to the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members, AVSBM.org and download a copy of our report,
Recent VSBA Proposals Reviewed
About the Alliance
The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members is a statewide reform initiative of local boards across the state to advocate for local school boards and to champion their contributions to Vermont education and to our local democratic traditions.
Announcing an Alliance of School Board Members
Grassroots Effort to Explore the Formation of a New Group
to Represent School Boards
A grassroots group of Vermont school board members and educational advocates are calling for the creation of an alliance to represent the views of the over 1,000 democratically elected school board members who have helped make our state’s public schools among the best in the country.
Members of school boards from across the state have proposed the formation of the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members, (avsbm.org) dedicated to ensuring that the voices of all school boards and communities in the state can be effectively heard when it comes to the formation of public policies. The Alliance proposes to conduct a series of regional forums to collect the views of the state's school boards and plans to query individual boards across the state about their needs and policy recommendations.
The alliance was generated by a statewide meeting in Westminster Vermont, in May and is formed by school board members who are frustrated with educational legislation and the role of the Vermont School Boards association in lobbying in support of that legislation. They expressed concern that the VSBA had walked away from its mission to represent and advocate for the state's school board members and this was making it increasingly difficult for Board members to successfully advocate for their community’s schools. They suggest that an Alliance of School Board Members is needed to provide that advocacy.
According to former VSBA board member David Schoales, “The bottom line is that the Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) has become a top-down organization promoting an agenda emanating from Montpelier. Schoales, currently a school board member from Brattleboro, said “VSBA has shown a lack of faith in its own membership. We don’t believe a state school board association should push so aggressively to eliminate scores of local schools boards, and suggest that the dedicated, voluntary services of hundreds of local school directors don’t add value to our school system. Even more disappointing is their claim that board members with years of experience are suddenly too incompetent to negotiate basic health care benefits.”
Jack Bryar, a school board member from Grafton, Vermont said, “I sympathize with our legislators and state officials who are trying to develop thoughtful educational legislation and responsible policies. They deserve to have a partner dedicated to relaying the wide variety of experiences and perspectives of those elected officials closest to our state’s schools around Vermont. They don’t have that partner today. It is one reason that so much of our recent educational legislation has been unnecessarily controversial.”
The organizers invite all local school board directors looking for a responsive and supportive membership organization to join us in building this Alliance via a series of regional meetings to be held across the state in the next several months. They encourage board members from across the state to come and articulate their needs and priorities.
In addition to these meetings, the Alliance expects to send out a series questionnaires to school board members to identify their most immediate concerns and to place before local school boards a series of questions for their input and advice.
The Alliance has published this website which includes a working schedule of proposed meetings, policy questions and other resources materials for local boards and board members.
They hope to hear from board members and local boards across the state and urge them to help create a democratic, responsive alliance of school board members that can advocate for the needs of our children, schools and our communities
Vermonters interested in attending these meetings or getting more information please contact us at: email@example.com.