Windham Southeast School District Board Encourages Action to Change Student Weighting Formula

On February 26th, 2020, the Windham Southeast School District school board (hereafter, “The Board”) unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Vermont Legislature to implement changes to the weighting formula used by the state to determine a district’s equalized pupil count, as recommended by a state-commissioned study. The equalized pupil count is used by the state to set education tax rates.

In December, 2019, a study group commissioned by the Vermont Agency of Education submitted a report to the House and Senate Education Committees (among other committees) examining the formula used by the state to determine per pupil spending. The formula gave varying weight to different types of students (e.g. a Pre-K student is counted as 0.46, a High School Student as 1.13). The report recommended a number of changes to the formula to reflect higher educational costs associated with English Language Learners, schools with higher poverty rates, and schools in rural communities.

The Vermont legislature is considering whether to make the recommended changes to the student weighting formula. In passing its resolution, The Board recognized that the current weighting formula greatly disadvantages the schools of the Windham Southeast School District. The changes suggested by the study group would enable the district to invest more resources in educating the students of our district.

Members of the public are encouraged to reach out, ideally by March 9th, 2020, to The VT Senate Education Committee and the VT House Education Committee, to express their support for changing the student weighting formula.

The Vermont Senate Committee on Education is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 11 at the state house in Montpelier. Seating is limited, those wishing to speak on the subject may sign-up beginning at 3:30. Oral testimony will be limited to two (2) minutes. Written testimony may be submitted by email to please write “Pupil Weighting Study” in the subject line.

Resolution Unanimously Passed by WSESD on February 26th, 2020:

The Windham Southeast School District recognizes the importance of using facts and valid research to guide our decisions and actions. We recognize the deleterious effects limited opportunity due to poverty, language, and restricted ability have on student performance. We call on the legislature to take immediate action to implement the findings of the student weighting research.

We are fully prepared to explain to our residents the necessary changes in student weighting identified in the recent legislative report. We see no reason to delay or perform further study before providing the level of support this research indicates is needed to help these marginalized students.

Vermont schools have seen little improvement in the performance of these students compared to peers with greater opportunities since we began measuring the gap in 2001. Now the legislature is being advised to “go slow” and “be thoughtful,” despite the clear data they have been presented. They are being advised to tell marginalized families they will just have to wait.

We call on the legislature to take immediate action to implement the findings of the student weighting research.

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