Some taxpayerswho believe Vermont schools already receive too much money with declining enrollments and little results in the way of improved academic achievementare thrilled with the news, while others are not.
Several area schools are seeing a decrease in the percentage of expenditures devoted to classrooms, according to First Class Education for Vermont, an education spending watchdog group. The group, which has analyzed data recently put out by the Vermont Department of Education, has identified schools that are spending smaller percentages of money on classroom expenses and more on non-classroom expenses, such as administration and support services.
Identified school systems in the Rutland area are Brandon, Castleton-Hubbardton, Fair Haven, Fair Haven Union High School, Otter Valley Union High School, Proctor,and West Rutland.
The largest decrease in classroom spending percentages in Rutland County was the West Rutland school system, which went from 68.33 percent to 65.84 percent.
Curtis Hier, chairman of First Class Education for Vermont, said that while some schools are improving and others holding steady, people should be concerned about the schools that are still experiencing lower classroom spending percentages.
In many school systems, more and more money is achieving less and less in terms of education, Hier said.
First Class Education pushed for legislation this last year that would promote a benchmark for classroom spending percentages. Our legislation died in the House and Senate, but well be at it again, Hier said.
But not everyone feels Hiers urgency.
Martin Harris, a Rutland Tribune newspaper columnist and long-time critic of Vermont public-school spending, said, Who'd have thought we'd live to see the day when public schools proudly boasted about spending less of their budget on actual teaching? What's missing from this is where's the money?. Did the money not spent on in-the-classroom teaching go back to taxpayers, or was it absorbed in increased administrative expenses; maybe it just went to redecorate the teachers' lounge.
Vermont Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland)introduced legislation in the 2007 session to require schools to report classroom spending percentages to voters.
Rutland County School System 2005-06:
Brandon 65.75-63.69 Castleton-Hubbardton 66.37 Clarendon 67.29-69.89 Fair Haven 62.37-60.46 Fair Haven UHS 65.56-63.95 Mill River UHS 64.46-65.50 Otter Valley UHS 65.9563.85 Pittsford 64.63-66.89 Poultney 63.90-64.40 Proctor 62.77-61.22 Rutland City 71.28-71.74 Rutland Town 70.54-72.21 West Rutland 68.33-65.84