It’s common knowledge that the people of Vermont are mad as hell over the high cost of public schools. And even angrier over the Legislature’s attempt to fix the problem. The situation was so dire that Governor Shumlin and Democratic leaders rushed through a fix to Act 46’s perceived unpopularities at the start of this year’s session.
Then came The VPR Poll, which showed an astounding lack of engagement with the issue. Here’s how I wrote it up:
As for Act 46, the school governance bill seemingly reviled by all — from conservatives who want tougher spending controls, to liberals who want no restrictions — most people are, well, ehh. Only 13 percent are “very familiar” with Act 46; 44 percent are “somewhat familiar”; and a whopping 42 percent are “not at all familiar.”
… Also, despite the Act 46 uproar, a solid 51 percent support Vermont’s efforts to encourage school consolidation. An underwhelming 29 percent oppose. 20 percent say “it depends” or “no opinion.”
One week later came Town Meeting Day, and the results add more credence to the poll. Josh O’Gorman of the Vermont Press Bureau totted up the numbers, and the conclusion may surprise you.
Around the state, voters approved 95 percent of school spending plans, and approved five merger plans by wide margins, according to unofficial data from the Vermont Superintendents Association.
All told, voters approved 231 of the 242 budgets offered Tuesday, creating a three-year trend that has seen fewer budgets defeated each year.