Effort begins to re-evaluate education financing in Vermont

first_imgby Hilary Niles vtdigger.org It’s time to re-evaluate Vermont’s education financing system and test its fairness to both students and taxpayers. That was the consensus at an education symposium convened Tuesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Legislature.The event kicked off what’s intended to be a session-long discussion of the state’s school funding formula, with the aim of understanding how it’s working in the current economic and educational environment ‘ and whether it could be improved.The current funding formula was created in 1997 with the passage of Act 60, and amended in 2003 with Act 68. Now all of the laws’ complex parts and funding mechanisms, everything from per-pupil costs and outcomes to property tax structures and income sensitivity, are on the table.Held at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, the symposium included a six-member panel discussion and three breakout sessions for wide-ranging conversations. It was organized as a response to growing complaints about high property tax rates and persistent concerns about educational outcomes ‘ particularly for schoolchildren from the state’s poorest districts.Lawrence Picus. Hilary Niles/VTDPanel moderator Lawrence Picus, author of a 2012 report on the state’s education finance system,’ will prepare a briefing paper for the administration and Legislature by the end of January. The follow-up will summarize and expand upon Tuesday’s discussion.The six-member panel of experts from Vermont and around the country weighed in against a backdrop of divergent assumptions: that rising property taxes are unpopular compared to an income-based system, for example, or that the housing market collapse and lowered property valuations that resulted from the recession spurred only a temporary spike in property tax rates that could very well come back down.Along with those issues, panelists looked at a separate issue at play in Vermont: ever-rising rates of growth in school budgets.Vermont’s per-pupil cost of education alternately takes first or second place as highest in the nation, according to Daphne Kenyon, public policy consultant and a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA.The state’s achievement scores don’t illustrate a return on that investment, Kenyon said, when compared to neighboring states like New Hampshire and Massachusetts, which spend less on average per student.If one takeaway could be gleaned from the discussion, it came from those outside Vermont: The system here works well, they said. Yes, it’s 17 years old and likely needs to be updated. But it’s got ‘good bones,’ as Picus put it. Adjustments may be called for, but not an outright replacement.’ Patrick Walsh, an economics professor at St. Michael’s College, also challenged the conventional wisdom that more spending results in better outcomes ‘ though he acknowledged that correlation can vary depending on which population of students is studied. Extra money directed to disadvantaged kids tends to make a bigger difference than a boost for better-off schools, for example.Economist Richard Heaps suggested at the annual Vermont Economic Outlook Conference (see www.vteconomy.com(link is external)) held January 10 that Act60/68 (which created the statewide property tax to fund public education) might have to be altered or over-turned because of the gap between increasing spending and declining tax base.But the impact of school spending is just one assumption that should be tested, according to both Shumlin and several panelists.‘Do we have a challenge with income sensitivity driving school spending beyond sustainable rates?’ Shumlin asked in his opening remarks. (Under Vermont’s education finance formula, the state uses income sensitivity to reduce property tax burdens for households that earn below a certain threshold.) Shumlin said some people believe passionately that tax reductions from income sensitivity shield too many people from the true cost of their votes on school budgets. But he wonders if that theory is just a myth.About two-thirds of Vermont households qualify for income sensitivity reductions that apply to their property tax bills. Several panelists suggested that school budgets likely would be lower if more taxpayers had more ‘skin in the game.’The need for more and better data to answer such questions was a running theme in the breakout sessions. A desire for ‘data-driven decisions’ was a mantra that applied to both the base education cost per pupil ‘ is it set correctly? ‘ as well as the quest for what the ideal class size and school district size is. That has long been a key issue in this small rural state with small schools.If one takeaway could be gleaned from the discussion, it came from those outside Vermont: The system here works well, they said. Yes, it’s 17 years old and likely needs to be updated. But it’s got ‘good bones,’ as Picus put it. Adjustments may be called for, but not an outright replacement.Aside from adjusting income sensitivity, one component of the formula that may be tweaked is the ‘high-spending threshold’ that kicks in as a method of moderating school budget increases. Designed to curb school spending, the function spikes tax rates if a school budget exceeds a certain level of annual increase.‘It seems like that threshold is not really doing its job (of preventing) runaway spending,’ Walsh said.Tom Downes, associate professor of economics at Tufts University, suggested reclassifying taxpayers beyond just residential and non-residential groups as is done under current law. Vermont could consider different tax rates for residential, commercial, industrial and ‘everybody else,’ he said, the latter category being a potentially profitable way of raising taxes on out-of-state homeowners.Introducing multiple thresholds for income sensitivity, which would taper tax implications could also help, several panelists said. Stepping up the tax burden more gradually may dissuade people from manipulating their household income from year to year to avoid a big bump in their tax bills.Assessing a property owner’s ability to pay taxes by a more accurate measure of income may also be a good strategy, suggested Michael Wolkoff, deputy chair of the economics department at the University of Rochester.Shumlin, Picus and several panelists cautioned that, whatever aspect of the school financing system may be altered, some people will be unhappy.But the fundamental goal, House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morrisville, underscored, is to achieve both equity in financial obligations and equal access to education for all schoolchildren in the state. Those two principles cannot be separated, he said.last_img read more

Big East Triathlon filling fast

first_imgThere are now just 200 places for the Big East Triathlon to be held on 11 May 2014 in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, UK. Last year all the entry slots were taken by the end of March; and organiser Dengie Events fully expects the event to fill up again in 2014.This popular early season event gives athletes a choice of ‘Middle Distance’ (1.6K swim / 82K cycle / 20K run) or ‘Challenge Distance’ (800m swim / 43K cycle / 10K run) and is open to individual athletes and relay teams.The Big East Triathlon is set in an ideal location for triathlon and is well suited to anyone preparing for the season ahead or in search of a new challenge. Based around the quiet and scenic Essex marshes and taking in an inspirational run course, the Big East Triathlon has received great feedback every year since its introduction in 2011.2012 Challenge Distance Winner Martin Jessup had this to say of the event… “I had a great day, the organisation was excellent with plenty of friendly marshals and stunning views. Out of the tri’s I’ve entered the Big East Triathlon was by far the most enjoyable.”The event will take place at Bradwell Marina in Bradwell Waterside, Essex, England. The triathlon runs alongside the Tour of the Dengie Cyclosportive & Fun Ride.The event consists of an open water swim in the River Blackwater, a cycle around the quiet and scenic roads of the Dengie Peninsula and finishes with an inspirational lapped run around the sea wall and marshes passing the historic St Peters Chapel.www.dengieevents.co.uk Relatedlast_img read more

Philips Automotive N.A. Appoints Russell Stebbins As Director Of Automotive Aftermarket

first_imgStebbins joins Philips after a very successful career at TRW. In his most recent role as director, Automotive Aftermarket for TRW Automotive, Stebbins was responsible for sales, marketing, product management and data. Prior to that, he held several positions of increasing managerial responsibility at various global locations within TRW, including Original Equipment Service and European and North American Occupant Safety Systems. Stebbins will be responsible for the overall aftermarket business development strategy, sales management and business practices for the North American Aftermarket. He will be based in Farmington Hills, Mich., and will be a member of the Philips Automotive Management Team. FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Philips Automotive North America, a division of Royal Philips, has appointed Russell Stebbins to the position of director, Automotive Aftermarket. The announcement was made by Dennis Samfilippo, general manager, Philips Business Group Automotive N.A. In announcing Stebbins’ appointment, Samfilippo noted, “Russell Stebbins has a very impressive list of accomplishments and over 20 years of experience in both the automotive original equipment and independent aftermarket channels. We look forward to his contributions and are delighted to have him on our team.” Stebbins holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master of science degree in engineering management from The University of Michigan. AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementlast_img read more

Third time lucky?

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

NBIS develops new escort/pilot agreement

first_imgHe noted that many carriers continue to operate on an invoice, or even worse a handshake, for these types of situations.”Imagine the following, everyday scenario, that could happen to anyone,” said Moore. “Your company is pulling an oversize, overweight, permitted load in a crowded and dense area. You’ve contracted a lead escort with a height pole, and have a company escort following behind your load. You don’t have any type of agreement in place with the lead escort, other than an invoice with minimal information about the job.”The load has skidder boards over the length of the top of the load to allow wires to slide over the load without catching. Your driver is in constant communication with the lead and rear escort, particularly as they are directing your load under the wires. The wires slide seamlessly across the wire skidder boards, but, as they come off the rear, they drop down and the weight of the wire causes one wooden pole on one side of the road to break, and another pole on the opposite side of the road to completely come out of the ground.”The weight of the wires and the two poles cause another third pole to break and fall, striking an aluminium traffic signal pole, and causing it to fall. As the traffic signal falls, it strikes several parked and stopped vehicles. Some passengers in the stopped cars complain of injuries. Almost all the cars have damage from being struck by falling poles.””As a result of the accident, several different vehicles owners and operators come forward presenting claims to your insurer for the damage to their vehicles and alleged bodily injury. Additionally, the utility companies present claims for damages to their power lines. You feel the escort should pick up defence and indemnity because they were leading the load and you were following their height pole, and their directions.”However, you don’t have any agreement in place with them, and as a result they are under no obligation to defend or indemnify you, costing you substantial legal fees from the multiple suits presented. Their negligence, if any, will be determined over the course of the various lawsuits.”NBIS has recently developed a new escort/pilot car agreement for this purpose. Some of the key provisions include: independent contractor relations; indemnity and hold harmless; route survey indemnity; insurance; and compliance with applicable laws.Read more here.  www.nbis.comlast_img read more

SWISSto12 to Collaborate with Cobham on Additive Manufactured Antennas

first_imgSWISSto12 has been awarded funding from the European Space Agency’s ARTES program to develop and test additive manufactured satellite user antennas (i.e. user terminal front ends). Cobham Antenna Systems joins the project with in kind contributions and is exploring, with SWISSto12 on how additive manufactured antennas could fit in to its future product portfolio.Additive Manufacturing refers to a process by which digital 3D design data is used to build up a component in layers by depositing material. This is often done using 3D Printers.The use of additive manufacturing for satellite user antennas is of particular interest for emerging high data throughput satellite telecommunication services in the Ju and Ka bands where traditional user antennas are currently complex and costly to product. This collaborative project aims at showing significant weight and cost reduction for Ku and Ka band satellite user antennas. This improvement will contribute to larger scale market penetration of high data rate satellite connectivity services.last_img read more

There’s Always Next Year: Cleveland Indians Edition

first_img Brandon Urasek While a pharmacy major at Toledo by day, Brandon Urasek is now making his mark in the journalism scene specializing in fantasy football and all things Cleveland sports. A five time fantasy football league champ and two time runner-up in ten tries, Brandon strives to help people with their lineups each week in both personal and weekly fantasy leagues in addition to covering the other various Cleveland teams. Follow Brandon on twitter @burasek10 In a phrase that has become all too synonymous with Cleveland, it once again is being muttered around town.The Cleveland Indians had high expectations this year, evidenced by Sports Illustrated picking them to win the World Series for the first time since 1948.They returned a young roster that is mostly locked up for years to come, regained a healthy Jason Kipnis, and brought in Brandon Moss to be the power bat they were looking for the past few years. Instead, it was another rough start to the year for the Tribe.The big free agent signings the year prior, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, continually battled injuries and found themselves battling for playing time.The poor defensive play early in the year was also costly with many of them seemingly playing out of position. An early season injury to Yan Gomes was also a catastrophic start and everything began to look like another typical Cleveland season that could only be matched by the woeful attendance.The last major disappointment in the year came when the Indians became sellers at the deadline, including a trade of an underwhelming Moss to the Cardinals for a young prospect. While Moss disappointed in terms of batting average, he did hit for some of the power the Indians wanted, smashing 15 home runs before his trade.In comparison, Moss will finish second on the team in home runs, despite being traded back in July and only four behind Carlos Santana for the team lead. It has been a constant struggle for the Indians to provide some power in their lineup, finishing twenty-second in the league in home runs.However with the bad comes some good, the Indians played their best baseball at the end of the year and while they didn’t make the playoffs they can still take momentum into next year. Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Related TopicsCleveland IndiansTerry Franconalast_img read more

Juneau Lawmaker Skeptical About LNG Project, ‘Permanent Fund’ Credit

first_imgJuneau Democratic Rep. Sam Kito says he is far from being settled with the idea… Rep. Kito (D-Juneau): “From my perspective, I definitely have to get some more information, but Id o have some concern that if the major suppliers of the gas and the major, what were going to be major, investors in the project are saying it’s not economic for them, there are some things that could make it a little more economic for the sovereign, for the State of Alaska, but it’s a significant risk that we’re taking and it’s something that we have to look at very carefully, because I don’t want to go down a  path where we’re obligating the State, either through future revenue or through some kind of a partnership or bonding, to have to pay $45-65 billion on a natural gas pipeline project when really our credit balance is the $54 billion we have in the Permanent Fund.” Kito says he’s still waiting for more information and a clearer picture of how the financing of the project will be worked out.center_img FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享State lawmakers continue to wrestle with the Governor’s hope that Alaska will build the AK LNG Project without the support of the Big 3 oil producers after ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips announced they were withdrawing as partners.last_img read more

Matsumoto, Shishime nab titles

first_imgDUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Kaori Matsumoto and Ai Shishime won their respective weight categories Friday, giving Japan two gold medals on the opening day of the Judo Grand Prix.London Olympic gold medalist Matsumoto took the 57-kg title with an ippon victory over her French foe Helene Receveaux at Mitsubishi Electric Halle, winning three of four matches using her trademark groundwork techniques. KEYWORDS Kaori Matsumoto, Judo Grand Prix, Ai Shishime “I’ve really worked hard on my groundwork, and I’m seeing results,” said Matsumoto.In the women’s 52-kg division, Teikyo University student Shishime beat Olympic bronze medalist Priscilla Gneto of France by scoring a yusei decision. center_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5last_img read more

Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake Hits Kenai Peninsula

first_imgFacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享A 4.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Kenai Peninsula at 2:29pm, 3 miles south of Kasilof, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. Nearest Communities3 miles S of Kasilof6 miles NE of Clam Gulch15 miles SW of Soldotna18 miles S of Kenai22 miles NE of Ninilchik24 miles SW of Sterling27 miles S of Nikiski41 miles NE of Anchor Point The quake registered at 38 miles deep. Updates will be posted as they are made available.last_img