Scott Beck on Education

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scottbeckST. JOHNSBURY - State Representative Scott Beck says his main interest for his first term in office is to focus on local education governance and cutting back on educational spending.

Beck says that Vermonters, especially on this side of the state, cannot afford such high budgets. Beck is a St. Johnsbury Academy teacher, but says St. Johnsbury, as well as other towns in Vermont, do not need to spend as much as they are on education.

St. Johnsbury's 2014 school budget was approved at $15.6 million, which came after three failed attempts, due to lack of support from tax payers who said they just could not afford the proposed budgets. 

Beck says, "I've been very clear from the beginning, we have to get this economy moving in this state. It's moving in the wrong direction, relative to the rest of the nation... I've been in education in Vermont for sixteen years, and I'm quite confident that spending in this state for education, we can slow the growth tremendously, probably below the rate of inflation and population growth, and still offer a quality education to our kids." 

St. Johnsbury School Superintendent, Ranny Bledsoe, said she agrees that educational spending is currently too high, and is continuing to rise too quickly. She says it's important for all school districts to cut costs and be frugal.

Bledsoe said, "I don't think a great education is all about money... Studies show that low spending districts, like ours, can have really great records." 

As long as a school has strong teachers and strong professional development for those teachers, Bledsoe says a school can thrive. 

The other main issue on Beck's agenda is local education governance. He wants to focus on who is making decisions. Beck is in "strong support" of local governance, rather than the state getting involved and making decisions for them, such as merging with other schools that may or may not have the same common purpose or mission. 

"We have a very unique educational set-up here and it works very well for our community, but once you start giving up [local] governance, that stuff could all be out the window," Beck said.

Bledsoe on the other hands feels that there should be a "mixed pallet" between local and state governance on education. She said that state governance should provide support and make regulations for supervision evaluations, but local control should make the decisions for what they want for the kids.

Bledsoe does however hope to see the new State Representatives for St. Johnsbury work on the question of consolidation. She does not know whether or not consolidation would make any huge difference, but Bledsoe still wants the issue to be resolved. 

Bledsoe says that she also hopes to see the new members of office work on educational tax structure as well as resource allocation.