Laura Sibilia & Katherine Sims: School funding formula unfair to children and taxpayers

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Rep. Laura Sibilia, an independent who represents the Windham-Bennington district in the Vermont House of Representatives, and Katherine Sims, of Craftsbury, the director of the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative and a Democratic candidate for the Vermont House.

For the last 20 years, our public education system has overtaxed and underfunded schools in Vermont’s rural and poor towns. According to the Pupil Weighting Factors Report commissioned by the Legislature to study equity in Vermont’s education funding formula, we incentivize spending less on students who cost more to educate and more on students who cost less to educate. Over the past 20 years, this has resulted in fewer opportunities and increased costs for poor and rural schools and higher taxes for Vermonters.

Despite the best efforts of our school boards, the chronic underfunding has stretched budgets to an extreme and left our schools with challenges like long

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