Miscellaneous Education Bill (S.133) - March 22, 2023

Chairwoman Kitchel requested on Wednesday that Legislative Counsel walk through the provisions of S.133 that are relevant to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

She wondered what a “curriculum audit” was as referenced in the bill. Legislative Counsel explained it was to track course offerings, course levels, and instructional content. Kitchel recalled a previous Secretary of Education saying that these sorts of studies reflect socio-economic struggles at disadvantaged schools. However, she found it interesting that low-income districts could do well under these circumstances just by improving the quality of instructors.

Senator Starr asked whether the Agency of Education (AOE) should be doing this regularly. Kitchel mentioned that some schools have curriculum coordinators. Legislative Counsel added that the AOE pushed back on a larger scope in the original proposal and recommended the limited pilot project focus on disadvantaged school districts (specifically, four of them).

There was much confusion among the committee members about what the pilot project was intended to do, how the audits would function, and what they would show.

Senator Perchlik finally suggested they could remove the money and move on or they could ask someone from the Education Committee. Legislative Counsel pointed them to the About section of the bill, which stated that “all Vermont children are entitled to substantially equal educational opportunities. In order to better understand the breadth of course offerings and curriculum differences across the State…”

This did not clear it up for them and Senator Lyons suggested “pull out the money and the entire Section and then have the money and audit discussion in the Budget (bill).” Kitchel approved of that idea.

They were also skeptical of the “Post-Secondary Education Marketing” provision in the bill. Westman suggested an amendment to strike both this provision and the curriculum audit. Senator Baruth agreed and made a motion to that effect. All voted in favor.

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