Vt. Senate Panel Urged to Expand School Choice

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, February 3, 2012

A committee of the Vermont Senate heard from parents and educators who want to expand the limited school choice now available in the state.

Vermont currently has limited school choice among public schools where neighboring districts agree to do so. Parents and educators testifying Thursday before the Senate Education Committee urged broadening that.

Bill Storz, a parent, teacher and school board member from Kirby, told of his own family's decision to move his daughter from the Lyndon Town School to what he said was a more challenging academic environment at the independent Stevens School.

"Our child has thrived because of our choice," Storz said. "I have become a believer in parents being able to find the right culture and curricular approach for their children."

Gov. Peter Shumlin said in his annual budget address last month that he would like to expand school choice from the high schools that now exercise the option to offer it to all public high schools in the state. The governor's proposal would include a handful of independent schools that serve as public schools -- meaning that some school districts in their areas that lack their own high schools rely on them as the place to send high-school-aged students.

Sen. Kevin Mullin, a Rutland County Republican and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he likes the governor's push to spread choice statewide, but would go further, by extending it down through the elementary school grades.

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