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Last Upated: January 19, 2023
Wondering about school choice in Vermont? There are a variety of options available for Vermont families. Knowing your options can help you find a learning environment where your child is thriving at school, not just “getting by.”
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Vermont at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
Many Vermont families choose traditional public school for their child. Traditional public schools are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that, on average, Vermont spends $20,838 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.
Vermont has unrestricted open enrollment for public high school and transfers for younger grades are widely available as well. What this means is that you may be able to send your child to any public school in Vermont, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. Note that local boards of education may set limits on transfers based on financial impact and capacity.
You can take advantage of open enrollment by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you.
Vermont is one of only five states that have not yet passed laws allowing public charter schools. While Vermont families cannot yet choose public charters, this may be an option in the future!
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have extra freedom to innovate and are accountable to authorizing entities for student achievement. Each school has a charter that explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous STEAM curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.
Vermont families can also choose magnet schools. These free public schools allow students to zoom in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that specific track. If there is one near you with a theme that interests your child, this could be an exciting and free option to consider.
Currently, Vermont has at least two magnet schools. Sustainability Academy focuses on social, environmental, and economic justice for communities. Integrated Arts Academy, meanwhile, focuses on music, drama, movement, and visual arts. Both of these magnet choices are in the Burlington Vermont School District.
Vermont families can also choose private schools! These nonpublic schools charge tuition and offer unique learning environments that may be smaller in size, pass on a specific religious tradition, or provide a different curriculum than is available in your district school.
Students in specific Vermont towns are eligible for a tuitioning program, which funds their attendance at nonreligious public or private schools outside their communities. As of 2022, private schools that participate in the town tuitioning program cannot deny enrollment to students based on special-education needs.
In 2022, Court’s ruling in Carson v. Makin, Vermont has approved 15 private religious schools for participation in their town tuitioning program for the first time in the 2022-2023 school year. Now, Vermont residents may now use public funds to send their children to faith-based private schools.
Additional funding may be available from other sources, and the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts. Learn more at Private School Review: Vermont.
Don’t overlook virtual schools just because they are off the beaten track. These programs can offer uniquely flexible learning environments that meet a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter environment to focus in, you may be interested in trying virtual school.
While Vermont does not yet offer a statewide, free, full-time online learning option, some students may be able to take part-time or full-time courses through the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative. For the 2022-2023 school year, K-8 students enrolled in a public school can access full-time online learning through the cooperative for free. In other cases, a variety of factors determine whether the school or parent will pay tuition. For more information, contact your local public school.
There are also paid, full-time online options, such as George Washington University Online High School, The Keystone School, Excel High School, and K12 Private Academy, that are available to students in any state.
To read more about online learning in Vermont, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.
Vermont families can also choose to homeschool, which allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and is permitted in all 50 states.
The state requires homeschooling parents to teach specific subjects (including communication skills, history, and the fine arts) and also requires annual assessments. Note that homeschooled students in Vermont may still be eligible to participate in sports or classes at local public schools.
In Vermont, it is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool by submitting the Home Study Enrollment Form between March 1 and August 1 annually. It is recommended that you formally withdraw your student from their public school so they are not marked truant. In the case that you decide to return to public school, notify the Secretary of Education and take an End of Year Assessment to finalize your student’s homeschooling record.
Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general they can be separated into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it. Learn more about learning pods.
If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Vermont. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.
If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have parents or other teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Vermont classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.
If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school.
For additional information about school choices in Vermont, visit these resources:
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