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Is Vermont School Spending sustainable?  The Public Assets Institute says yes.
Vt school Spending
BUT if you think your property taxes are out of control… You’re right!
EdFundSustainability (1)
posted 10/9/2014
update 7/22/2010

The house passed four education bills that focus on educational quality and safety. They will strengthen our communities now and in the future: Independent colleges will develop harassment policies (H.648), schools will have greater access to funds for nutritional programs (H.408), a PreK-16 council was charged with increasing college aspirations and completion rates (H.709), and separation agreements with former employees would no longer be permitted to hide conduct that could jeopardize the safety of a minor or vulnerable adult (H.730). In addition, children with learning disabilities will be able to participate in graduation activities with their peers without losing access to continued educational opportunities and school districts that decide to create a more efficient structure for their communities can merge voluntarily (H.66). Voluntary school district merger language was incorporated into H.66. The bill permits districts who find it is in their collective interest to merge to receive incentives and technical assistance to facilitate merger. It leaves decisions in the hands of the district, removes barriers to merger, and allows districts to design for efficiencies.

The education section of Challenges for Change (H792) maintains local control for our schools and prohibits a one size fits all decision.  Our schools have responded in the past and we have confidence that they will make the best decisions for their communities in these difficult times. They choose the efficiencies that are the best for them.

How are school taxes calculated?

  School districts have a total expenditure budget, they calculate non-tax revenues (small school grants, IDEA-B, title 1, transportation grants, etc.) and subtract that number from the total expenditures to arrive at ‘education spending’ – which is the data point that much of the tax calculations revolve around.  Education spending is divided by the number of equalized pupils to arrive at education spending per equalized pupil.  Your town’s specific education spending per equalized pupil is  then divided by the base education amount to get your district spending adjustment.  If your town’s education spending is 40% more than the base education amount, the equalized homestead tax rate will be 40% above the statewide base homestead tax rate.  (The base education amount is determined by statute – it is pegged to an amount from the year ACT 68 was enacted .  That was the lowest education spending in the state at that time.  It increases by a statutory amount each year and is currently at $8544.)  That number is multiplied by the base homestead rate (.86 in 2010) to arrive at the equalized homestead rate.  In a Supervisory  Union  such as CESU, a different rate is calculated for the elementary school and the MMU district.  If 60% of you town’s students are in the MMU district and 40% in the elementary school,  60% of your tax will result from the MMU rate and 40% from the elementary school rate.   This  combined equalized homestead tax rate is divided by your town’s common level of appraisal (because a home with a true value at $250,000 in one town should be taxed the same as a home with the same actual value in any other town) to arrive at the actual homestead rate.


Six steps in calculating school tax rates:

1.        Subtract all non tax revenues from total school spending  to calculate “education spending”

2.       Divide “ Education spending” by number of “equalized pupils”  to get “spending per equalized pupil”

3.       Divide “spending per equalized pupils”  by  “base education amount”   to get  “district spending adjustment”

4.       Multiply the “ district spending adjustment”  by the  statewide “ base homestead tax rate”  to arrive at the “equalized homestead tax rate”

5.       In our SU,  we then calculate a “combined equalized homestead tax rate” by multiplying the percent of a town’s students in the MMU district by the MMU “equalized homestead tax rate” and adding to that the elementary  school ” equalized homestead tax rate” multiplied by the percent of the town’s students in their elementary school.

6.       The “combined equalized homestead tax rate”  is then adjusted to account for differences  in towns’ appraisal practices by dividing  the “combined equalized homestead rate” by the particular town’s  “Common Level of appraisal” to arrive at the actual tax rate one pays.