MONTPELIER — Vermont school boards are trying to follow the bouncing ball on education spending in Montpelier, and it's getting harder.

Lawmakers last year passed new penalties for districts deemed to be spending too much, but critics say the penalties have swept up low-spending districts as well.

On Tuesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to remove the penalties and replace them with ones that had existed before.

The House Education Committee is working on several different options on what do about the penalties.

Meanwhile, school boards around the state have locked in or are about to lock in budgets to present to voters at Town Meeting.

And local districts are getting letters from the state Agency of Education revising the numbers on which they need to base their budgets.