BREAKING NEWS

Press Release

10 AM, October 13, 2017
Contact: Jack Bryar , Research Director
jack.bryar@gmail.com 802-843-2735

Have the Koch Brothers and State Lobbyists Hijacked the Agenda of Vermont’s School Board Association?
An analysis by the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members (AVSBM.org, or “The Alliance”) of new proposals being offered for adoption by the Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) show that none of them were proposed or ratified by actual Vermont school boards. The proposals include model legislation developed by ALEC, the Koch Brothers organization that is dedicated to gutting public education. What all the proposals have in common is that they imply that school boards are incompetent or need increased guidance from an astonishing number of  new state councils, task forces, and officials in order to do a job they have been doing very well since 1892.

Grafton, Vermont

The Vermont School Board Association will be holding its annual meeting on October 19 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT.  Members of the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members will be sending attendees its review of an alarming set of new proposals developed by the VSBA’s Resolutions Committee.  In their present form, these proposals are , in the words of the AVSBM’s David Clark, “distinguished by the degree to which they disrespect, diminish and serve to disempower Vermont’s local school boards.”  The AVSBM recommends that local school board members read the proposals carefully and consider rejecting those that use deceptive language developed by the largest anti-public education lobby in the country.
And, they need to ask how such anti-school-board resolutions were drafted in the first place!

These proposals suggest that the school boards go on record saying they need:

  1. A special state council to negotiate benefits in place of local school boards
  2. A special task force to arbitrarily adjust staffing levels at local schools according a new school categorization system to be developed by state bureaucrats
  3. Another “stakeholder task force” to potentially limit the ability of school boards to negotiate early teacher retirements, even when this would help reduce local school costs.
  4. New state-developed restrictions on fact-finding in teacher negotiations that would set up arbitrary formulas and make it nearly impossible for poor communities to be competitive when attracting teachers.
  5. Even more state “guidelines” limiting the ability school board’s ability to use contingency funds or fiscal reserves to better manage school finances.
  6. A entirely new category of privately run schools and school districts, unaccountable to any elected school officials.

 

Taken together, these proposals are designed to defund,  discredit and disable the ability of Vermont’s school boards to perform their functions on behalf of  our local communities. What they all have in common is hostility to the very notion of democratic local control. They argue that school boards are incapable of staffing schools, of negotiating with unions, or for budgeting for a rainy day. The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members ask,
How on earth can these proposals be placed before school board members as if they represent any of our values?
They need to be rejected in total, as should any other proposals to take away school board control of local education.
School board members all struggle with many issues that merit thoughtful discussion at the VSBA and elsewhere. More than a few are the result of tone deaf state policies that ignore the contributions and expertise of local school board members.
But how can the state and the legislature understand our needs if we approve proposals that are inherently hostile to school boards and public education?
The Alliance of Vermont School Board Members urge its membership and the friends of education and local control across the state  to help defeat these embarrassing, school-board-hostile resolutions. Instead, let’s focus on what school boards say they need to do their jobs and  advocate for everything they do to help Vermont continue to produce a world-class education system that is already one of the best in the United States.

For more information,
contact the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members at 802-843-2735 or
go online at avsbm.org

Please also see the attached, document,
Recent VSBA Proposals Reviewed”

 

 

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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: info@avsbm.org.



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