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Letter: True Cost of Vt. Education

To the Editor:

I am certainly proud of Vermont student test results that are the product of teachers’ hard work and the commitment of parents. The precious relationship within the classroom among teachers, aides and staff should be preserved. However, taxpayers should be aware of Vermont tax double-speak.

First, the state rebates a significant part of the school tax to “needy” people with incomes up to $95,000. The amount of this rebate on a statewide basis is significant.

Second, with few stakeholders paying the full share of educational expenses, little incentive exists to make schools more efficient. As a result, we pay a substantially increased cost for a declining school population. We have one of the highest per-pupil costs in the nation.

Third, a substantial portion of school expense goes to maintaining very small schools buildings, each with a principal, specialists and support staff.

Fourth, the state places a greater portion of the tax burden on wealthy residents. However, if you cared to check, those wealthy residents who own property out of state often change their residency to Florida and other states. In the process, the state loses their income tax revenue. This is a healthy amount. Ask any tax adviser.

Fifth, the governor and Legislature are tone deaf to the education cost issue. The recent appointment of a new commissioner of education stated nothing about her ability to address the critical issue of education cost.

As one who voted for recent school bonds and supports reasonable teacher-pupil ratios, I believe it is time for Vermont to stop hiding the full cost of education through hard-to-follow methods of taxation.

Harvey Bazarian

Hartford