David Sharpe

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House gives final approval to school district consolidation bill

MONTPELIER — A bill that proposes to merge school districts and potentially cap education spending is on its way to the Senate. House lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would create larger school districts — voluntarily or involuntarily — and cap future education spending if it increase more than it did when voters approved their school budgets in March. The spending cap component of the bill — created through an amendment from Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, and approved by House lawmakers Wednesday — would trigger a 2-percent spending cap in 2017 and 2018 if the statewide average education spending increase in 2016 exceeds 2.95 percent, the average rate of growth for budgets approved by voters last month. As they did Wednesday, lawmakers offered a host of amendments to the bill. Rep. Christopher Pearson, P-Burlington, made a motion to reconsider the Buxton amendment. Continue Reading →

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House gives preliminary approval to school district merger bill

MONTPELIER — House lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a bill that would merge the state’s school districts and potentially cap education spending. By a vote that was not divided by party lines so much by the size of the towns and cities they represent, House members Wednesday approved a bill that would overhaul school governance in the state by a vote of 88 to 55. “This bill will provide for valuable improvements to education for our students and do it within a cost structure affordable to Vermont residents,” said Rep. David Sharpe, D- Bristol, who chairs the House Education Committee. The bill, which has been in the works since January and which follows a district merger bill that received House approval last session before dying in the Senate, calls for the merger of the state’s nearly 300 school districts into districts that provide Pre-K-12 education with at least 1,100 students by the year 2019. The bill would compel districts to conduct studies on the feasibility of merging with their neighbors — or any other district — and present merger plans to voters for approval by 2017. Continue Reading →

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