The Senate Education Committee resumed their work on H.461 on Friday, with Representative Hango joining the Committee to speak about the National Guard tuition benefit expansion.
This expansion, she explained, will allow a Guard member to pursue a post-graduate degree program outside of the State of Vermont that is not offered at any Vermont institution, to be reimbursed at the UVM rate of tuition. She noted that there are currently five Guard members who are interested in becoming Physician Assistants, and that degree is not offered within the portfolio of programs at any Vermont institution of higher education.
There were no questions about her testimony, just compliments on her attentiveness to this issue.
Amanda Garces (Director of Policy, Education and Outreach; Vermont Human Rights Commission) was up next. She explained that the Education Equity Working Group needed a funding extension, which was the reason for her visit. She assured the Committee that they will complete their work, however, she noted “a lot of commotion around these Independent Schools for the past 6 months” and that she and her co-chair have been spending lots of time responding to endless document requests.
On another point, there will be no group when they are done, so there will be no one to go back to with follow-up questions. She is recommending a residual Technical Advisory Working Group with 11 of the original 23 members, who would be unpaid, but remain available to maintain institutional memory.
This advisory group would exist until January 31, 2024 – the first month of the legislative session – in order to be available to discuss the report with legislators. Chairman Campion and members agreed the approach seems responsible and they will follow up on the recommendations.