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Last Upated: July 27, 2021
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.”
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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 $20,315 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 school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Vermont, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this option 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.
As of the 2020-2021 school year, more than 78,000 students were enrolled in Vermont’s pre-K-12 public schools. Find out more about public schools in your state here: Vermont’s Department of Education.
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. Additional funding may be available from other sources. Also, 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 free, full-time online learning option, students may be able to take part-time courses through the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative. 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, and K12 International Academy, that are available to students in any state.
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.
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 in the middle of the school year, notify the Secretary of Education within 7 days and take an End of Year Assessment to finalize your student’s 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 here. Note that homeschooled students in Vermont may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.
If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have 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 going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee.
For additional information about school choices in Vermont, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2022 will take place January 23 – 29, 2022. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Check out ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Vermont celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 69 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Vermont.
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