The Vermont Legislature, following a fierce debate over education reform, is set to spend $300,000 for an “adequacy study” on the cost of public schools.
The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office is looking for an outside contractor it hopes will be able to tell policymakers how much it should cost to administer a decent education to students, Vermont Public Radio reported.
This comes after Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill that requires all school districts to have at least 900 students.
It currently costs Vermont an average of about $15,000 per-pupil to educate a student.
“Many people these days are asking whether the per-pupil spending average that we have is too high or too low, and whether some sort of adequacy number might allow us to save some money,” House Speaker Shap Smith said.
Adequacy is being defined as the quality standards adopted by the state Board of Education.
Rep. Dave Sharpe, the chairman of the House Committee on Education, said many lawmakers and advocates in the education debate want to be able to assign a dollar amount to “adequacy.” “Is there a right number?” Sharpe said.
The Bristol Democrat said the study’s findings might be used to reconsider high-spending penalties imposed on school districts where per-pupil spending exceeds statutory limits.
Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, of Stowe, Vt., said consultants and lawmakers have no business telling local districts how much they can or should spend to educate students.
The Joint Fiscal Office plans to hire a contractor by mid-July. A report is due to lawmakers by next January.