More time for Act 46 input
Editor of the Reformer:
Yesterday's paper included a letter ("Don't rush the Act 46 decision," April 26) from four citizens about Act 46 possible consolidation. As a member of the study committee, I would like comment on their letter.
The Windham Southeast Supervisory Union website has a lot of information that would also be helpful to citizens informing themselves about Act 46. There are links to information about the law, and also specific documentation and statistics about our own communities' schools. This includes data on decreased enrollment, comparisons of programming currently offered, test results, tax information, and comparative data with the state.
From this web link, you'll also find links to video tapes of every meeting the Study Committee has held, thanks to BCTV's coverage. You can follow the public comments that have been made. If your watch all of the meetings, you'll see that the Study Committee has often incorporated the public's insightful and dedicated concerns into our work.
The "loss of local school boards," mentioned in the letter, also means that gain of "school leadership councils." These councils would play much of the same role as the local school boards do now — and they would include staff, administrators, unified board members, and community representation. I've been involved with the parent groups at my children's schools for around 10 years, and this sort of a group does not currently exist. I personally find this part very positive for the schools. And, of course, all of us would still vote on the unified school board.
I do disagree with the letter writers' assumption that "The Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Study Committee decided to pursue the Accelerated Merger." The Study Committee has been carefully considering all the options available for merging. We spent an nearly an entire meeting looking at the various options. Two small groups were assigned to this task specifically as well, and the first one actually included David Schoales. We have also returned to these many times, at many different meetings. Very soon, due to deadlines, the study committee will decide if we want to put the Accelerated Merger option out to the general public for discussion and eventual vote. But we have not yet taken that step, nor have we ignored the other options.
Should the study committee vote to send this out to voters, there will be more public forums and informational sessions presented in each of the towns. I believe all the boards have already held at least one public forum, too.
The Act 46 Study Committee has spent literally hundreds of hours looking at this issue — and we do not always come to the same conclusions. However, I am sure that the one issue we can all agree on is that it is important to be able to hear all sides of the issue, and for voters to be able to make decisions based on facts.
Jill Stahl Tyler, Brattleboro, April 27