Beginning in mid-2011 and ending in January 2012, Picus Odden and Associates completed an evaluation of Vermont’s school funding system, including an in-depth analysis of the operation of the state’s current school funding system and assessing the extent to which the formula meets the goals of that state’s two major school funding laws: Acts 60 and 68. The study included a detailed cross-state comparison focusing on how Vermont compares to all of the other states in the nation along with a comprehensive comparison of Vermont with the other states in New England. The Vermont study included a traditional school finance equity analyses, an economic analysis of the impact of the funding system on individual school district taxing and spending decisions and a series of public hearings. We also assessed the allocation and use of resources in five schools – Brewster Pierce Elementary, Colchester High School, Montgomery Elementary, Whitcomb High School, and White River Elementary – that demonstrated substantial improvements in student performance over the past five years.
Our evaluation concluded that Vermont’s funding system meets the goals and objectives established by Acts 60 and 68, and that the state’s unique, substantially income tax based system that allows individual districts (which often contain a single school) to approve budgets annually, provides both equity and an adequate level of resources for all schools to offer high quality educational programs for children. Our recommendation was that the state focus on educational strategies that will improve learning for all children and provide all schools with the support they need to implement those strategies in their own unique environments.