February 9, 2017: Montpelier, VT
Proposal Made in Education Committee to eliminate Vermont's Universal PreK
February 9, 2017: Montpelier, VT
A bill has been proposed in the legislature by Rep. David Sharpe, Chair of the House Education Committee. The proposed bill eliminates Universal Public PreK and reverses all progress made to establish family choice, access to and affordability of high quality early education programs for families with young children 0-5 yrs. The benefits of access to quality care are well known. However, if passed, this bill :
1) reverses the concept of the universality of Public PreK funding by making it a claimed benefit based solely on income. If implemented this will require further substantial and additional levels of State and School District administration to audit and process claims, verify income, process changes, and will require extensive family income disclosures similar to the current VT Child Care Subsidy/Head Start programs. It undermines all the recent work done to bring quality early care and education to ALL families in Vermont irrespective of income and the ability to support early care workers in receiving a living and sustainable wage. This proposal means tests public school accessibility for the first time in Vermont.
2) increases the cost for preK for all middle income families. Click HERE to see how it could impact your family. There is no proposal in the bill that the Act166 amount is to be increased beyond the amount currently provided ($3092) for those that qualify based on income. So while families at 100% of the Federal poverty level may be unaffected, ALL other families will be impacted NEGATIVELY. EVERY Vermont Family of 4 with a Household Income of more than $24,600 will lose all or some of the Act166 funding. This represents 85% of all Households. Source: 2011-2015 American Community Survey Table DP03
3) denies family choice and access to high quality prequalified community-based early childhood programs located outside their school district of residence either because they are closer to family workplace or simply because they are available. School Districts can refuse to pay for any program that may be closer to your workplace or which you currently choose. Multi-child Families may have to choose a different program location for their preschooler and their Infant/Toddler adding to commute time, work absence and stress. 36% of the residents of the 8 most populous Vermont Counties work in a different county than the one in which they live. Source: Vermont Dept. of Labor
4) undermines community-based early childhood programs across the state which currently serve both Infants/Toddlers AND preschool children under a sustainable “combination” service model. The proposal encourages new school based full-time preschool-only (3-5) programs without regard to the impact this will make to the other community based program's enrollment and the viability of infant and toddler programs that are not publicly financed. The recent Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High-Quality, Affordable Child Care estimated the cost of quality Infant/Toddler care at $35,000. Currently community programs use their preschool enrollment to reduce the cost of care. Infant/Toddler care could rise to $30000+ per child per year if these proposals are passed, there will be even fewer Infant/Toddler spots. School Districts do not have the capability nor wish to provide this care.
5) ring fences public preK funds by School Districts for their own expanded SU programs undermining the public/private partnerships that have served VT preK so well. School Districts currently pass less than 50% of the state cost of preK directly to families by the Act166 grants of $3000+. If passed this proposed bill will allow School Districts to further augment their own K-12 budgets with monies intended to expand preK programs in VT.
Act now to save Universal PreK in Vermont. Contact the Committee below.
Rep. David Sharpe, Chair
Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, Starksboro
Rep. Albert (Chuck) Pearce, Vice Chair
Highgate, Franklin, Berkshire, and Richford
Rep. Kathryn Webb, Ranking Member
Rep. Scott Beck
Rep. Peter Conlon, Clerk
Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton, Salisbury
Rep. Lawrence Cupoli
Rep. Dylan Giambatista
Rep. Adam Greshin
Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren
Rep. Ben W. Joseph
Alburg, Grand Isle, Isle La Motte, North Hero, South Hero, Milton
Rep. Emily Long
Marlboro, Newfane, Townshend
Rep. Alice Miller
Shaftsbury, Glastenbury, Sunderland