The governor has not yet signed the bill into law. In the meantime we put together a simple explanation of the bill, along with an FAQ. Join our email list (sign up is on the front page) and we'll make sure you get a copy. Send along any questions you may have.
We just received word that H.66 has passed both the House and Senate tonight.
The full text of the bill will be available on Thursday here.
We will be putting together a plain english summary of the bill for you shortly.
As a group, our next step will be to inform parents and school board in choice communities, what their options are when this bill is signed into law.
Stay tuned, and keep those new email list referrals coming our way. We need parents and concerned community members in EVERY choice district represented. Small communities could be very vulnerable under this new program, please help spread the word that we are here to help preserve choice.
With just a few "nays" the Senate passed H.66 today. Major concerns seemed to be the tax incentives. The Education Committee did a terrific job explaining the bill. I was able to record their presentation and will post a copy here when time permits.
When links to the bill as passed the senate, and amendments are available, that will be posted here as well.
Join us tomorrow for a front page chat while the House discusses the bill. You can listen on VPR.net
Also, we received unconfirmed news that Addison voted down their school merger on the revote tonight.
Looks like the legislative session will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday H.66 was referred to the Appropriations Committee. The Senate Calendar is not yet posted for Tuesday.
We'll host a chat on Tues and Weds for those of you listening to the VPR stream of the legislature.
H.66 was passed by the Senate Finance committee with a few recommendations for amendment. In addition two senators proposed amendments for discussion on the floor. The bill is scheduled for a second reading today.
You can catch more information HERE.
We're hearing conflicting things on Challenges for Change, the latest is that Education has been removed from CFC and will be handled separately.
Rumors swirling that parts of H.782 or H.66 may end up as part of Challenges for Change.
This from Wednesday's email:
Legislative delay tactics are being used - here's why...
H.66 (The Senate Voluntary Merger Bill) Update: A friend of School Choice Vermont was in the Senate Appropriations Committee today during broad ranging discussion of both H.782 and H.66. It appears there is an issue with the way the incentives are funded which may affect the viability of that portion of the bill(s). Senator Susan Bartlett appears to be working on a Plan B.
S.297 (The Miscellaneous Education Bill) Update: Almost every year there is a "Misc. Ed Bill". Miscellaneous bills are to correct technical issues with language and tweak established statute. Part of the ground this year's bill revisits is Section 827, which covers designating an independent or public high school as the sole school of a district. Towns like Wells, Rupert, Pawlet, (which designate NY schools) Burke and other communities (which designate Lyndon Institute), and Thetford (which designates Thetford Academy) are really the only districts currently affected by this law.
Patti Komline, Rep. from Dorset proposed a change in the language of the statute that wouldallow parents who are dissatisfied with the designated school, to inform their school boards by April 15th that they are sending their child elsewhere, and the tuition will follow the child. Currently the school board entertains petitions to attend other schools and in some communities never grants them. This amendment shifts control of a child's education from the school board to the parent.
Shockingly, House Ed, a committee that has many members who have come out strongly against parent directed school choice over the course of the session, fell in favor of the amendment 6-5 in a straw vote, which usually accompanies an amendment when presented to the House.
Up until this time the House Ed Committee had been ushering S.297 along in a timely way. Since this amendment's approval it would appear delaying tactics are being implemented - they must have realized their "mistake". The bill has been delayed for its final reading and vote, THREE times. It wouldn't surprise us to hear that another straw vote has been somehow arranged and come out against the amendment, or that the bill is allowed to die. Either of these would be preferable to another School Choice debate on the house floor, this time over a parent directed school choice amendment that was voted upon favorably by the House Ed Committee.
The Senate's version of the voluntary merger bill is now numbered H.66. it is in the finance committee, soon to be on the Senate Floor. Full text of the bill is not available on line yet.
Our efforts helped to convince the committee to allow all choice towns to have access to the incentives. We would have preferred no incentives at all though. Sign up for emails if you want the big overview on today.
We'll let you know via email when the Senate takes up the bill so you can listen in on VPR and join us for a chat on our front page.
The House passed H.782 on a voice vote today.
All of the choice amendments were roll call votes and lost.
We'll have a full update tonight through our email alerts, and a peek into what may be ahead.
If you are not on our email list, join now to receive tonight's email.
THERE WILL BE A THIRD READING OF H.782 MONDAY and likely a vote.
Some School Choice Amendments are on the Calendar:
You can listen live here: http://www.vpr.net/listen/stream/ click on Vermont State House
Click on the gray "Cover it Live" box on the front page.
Rather than blogging the events we will host a live moderated chat session so you can ask questions and post comments on what you hear while listening to VPRs streaming coverage.
If possible we will cover Senate Ed live at 1:30 while they review their version of the bill.