Equity and adequacy of Vermont school finance under Act 68: An Act Concerning Education

Date of Completion

January 2007


Education, Finance|Education, Administration




The equity and adequacy of public school finance is an issue which has played a central role in the political and social dialog in state capitols and courtrooms across the nation. Without Federal guidance or oversight, each of the nation's 50 states has had to address the issue of how tax-payer supported public education should be financed. One of the underlying assumptions of American jurisprudence is that all Americans should be treated equally under law. Equal protection guarantees are found in the 14th Amendment of the Federal Constitution, and in various articles and amendments in all 50 state constitutions. Yet, when the issue of public school funding is considered, philosophical and legal principles run headlong into the pragmatic and real issues of how tax-generated funds should be distributed. The net result of this clash has created a significantly unequal system of public schools in states across the United States of America and, in the opinion of many state courts, denied students their rights to equal protection under law by denying them substantially equal educational opportunities.^ The aim of this research was to investigate one particular state's efforts to reform a substantially unequal educational environment through legislative efforts designed to improve funding equity and adequacy across school districts. The state is Vermont, and the legislation is titled Act 68 An Act Relating to Education. Act 68 was passed by the Vermont State Legislature in February of 2004. Act 68 followed the controversial and politically charged legislation passed in 1997 titled Act 60 Equal Educational Opportunity Act. Now in the third year of implementation, data is starting to emerge which will begin to address the question as to whether this school funding vehicle is having the desired effect of creating an equitable and adequate system of public education in the state of Vermont. The purpose of this study was to examine Vermont's experience with statutory changes to the state school finance formula with the aims of informing the broader debate in states grappling with the issue of equity and adequacy promulgated or inhibited by various school finance legislation.^