School Budget Info & the Impact of Act 46
by Lindsey Cox
There has been a lot in the news about Act 46 as it relates to education spending,
funding, and governance. The spending caps have created challenges for most districts
in our state. Even with the recently passed amendment that increases the cap by .9%,
many districts are struggling to meet contractual obligations and stay within the caps
without having to cut personnel or programs. That is not the case in Colchester due to
our diligent cost containment, consistent “rightsizing”
strategies, efforts in taking
advantage of cost efficiencies, and last year’s adoption of a universal preK
The legislated Allowable Growth Percentage (AGP) in Act 46 limits school district
spending for the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Budget. Basically, school districts were given
an AGP for FY17 in the range of 05.5%
based on the previous year’s equalized per
pupil spending. According to the Agency of Education, one of the highest spending
districts in the state, Weybridge, had an AGP of 0% but already spends $19,189 per
equalized pupil, while Colchester has a 2.35% AGP and spent $13,535 per equalized
pupil in 201516.
So, Weybridge spends over $5000 more per pupil than we spend here
in Colchester. This demonstrates the exceptional job we have done of keeping our
costs low while providing a high quality education for our students. This year’s
proposed budget, which includes an equalized per pupil spending rate of $13,297.47,
will result in a decrease of about .04 cents to our homestead/residential tax this year.
Controlling school district spending is just one of the motivations for the legislation.
Another foundational tenet of Act 46 is that the cost of schools has gone up while the
student population has gone down. According to Act 46: Vermont’s kindergarten
through grade 12 student population has declined from 103,000 in fiscal year 1997 to
78,300 in fiscal year 2015 while the number of school related personnel has not
decreased in proportionally. But this has not been the case in Colchester. Our
enrollment has stayed relatively consistent.
School funding is an important issue for Colchester residents, but equally as important
is the quality and type of education we provide our students. Research and best
practice also tells us that the education we give Colchester students needs to be
personalized to fit each learner, learnerdriven
to let kids own their learning,
to leverage technologies that work, and applied to let kids learn by doing.
We are educating the whole child and that is why you will see another bond item on
your ballot in March. After completing the new high school science center under
budget, we are asking for the remaining $730,000 to be reallocated to update the CHS
Theatre. This is a much needed renovation that will increase our ability to provide a
robust arts program to our students. It will also allow us to engage with and host our
We have a lot to be proud of here in Colchester: a high quality education delivered in a
cost effective manner, low per pupil spending, care for the whole child as evidenced
through our emphasis on academic and extracurricular aspects of students’ education,
and a proven, strong leader in our new superintendent, Amy Minor, to name a few.
Please come out to show your support for our schools on town meeting day. A yes vote
for the school budget and theatre renovations will help ensure a prosperous future for
our entire community.