Lawmakers returned to the State House this week to begin the work of the 2020 legislative session. This is the second half of the 2-year biennium that started last January. We expect the session will run until May. I’ll be swapping weekly updates with Representative Houghton, so please look for our columns here and in the Essex Reporter, with our colleagues from Essex and Westford.

I am excited to continue my work as a member of the House Education Committee. Statewide education policy has a major impact on local schools and the decisions school boards and staff have to manage to ensure a great student experience. Several weeks ago, local lawmakers met with the Essex Westford School District Board to learn about their priorities for the 2020 session. This local perspective, and continued contact with our local school system throughout the session, is a key part of my work to represent the community. I welcome input if you have any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share — please email me at [email protected]

In the Education Committee, we’ll take testimony on a range of topics, including oversight of PreK, career and technical education, the statewide education finance system, and continuous improvement initiatives in schools. We will also take a close look at statewide school test score outcomes, the status of special education reforms that were enacted in 2018, and classroom literacy instruction. There are notable pressures bearing down upon the statewide system, which are exacerbated by demographics and resulting declining pupil counts. At the same time, questions about capacity at the Vermont Agency of Education require oversight. I am hopeful we will dig deep to understand and improve these issues.

This is an exciting time of year with lots of meetings and community events. I hope to see folks out this Saturday (4:30 – 7:00pm, Jan 11) at the High School for Gather at the Table. I also invite you to our first Community Coffee Meeting of 2020 —Join us on Sunday, January 19 from 2:00-3:30pm at Nest Coffee and Bakery (17 Main Street). I hope to see you there!

Rep. Dylan Giambatista