Letter: Don't rush the Act 46 decision

Don't rush the Act 46 decision

Editor of the Reformer:

This past June, the Vermont Legislature passed H.361, the School Consolidation Bill, which has become commonly known as Act 46. The Bill is a mandate from the State for all school districts to consider some form of school consolidation by July 2019.

There are several options available for towns to consider how to reorganize: The Accelerated Merger, which is an incentivized merger and includes a deadline of June 30; the Modified Unified Union District in which not all not all towns merge; the Conventional Merger, which is similar to the accelerated only with no time limit; the Side-by-Side in which two or more towns merge; and the Self-Study in which alternative governance structures are explored.

Each school supervisory union was asked to establish a study committee to study the law and decide which of these options was the approach they thought best fit their union district. The Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Study Committee decided to pursue the Accelerated Merger. If passed, this would mean that all WSESU schools would lose their local school boards and come under the virtual ownership of the Supervisory Union governed by an eight person board.

The Study Committee also has carried out this process without entertaining much public discussion. Consequently, not many people know much about what effect this law could have for their towns.

We, the undersigned, are an ad-hoc committee of interested residents who have gotten together from Putney, Dummerston, Vernon, and Brattleboro and who feel this process has moved too fast and too exclusively with so much at stake. We would like to share information we have gathered about the Accelerated Merger process and also share with you some of the other options that should be available to us. We would like to be able to communicate this information to you via email. It is the quickest and cheapest way we have to help inform you about what to expect in the next few weeks.

If you want additional information from our ad hoc committee, we hope you will let us know of your interest by emailing one (or all) of us at our emails Richard R. Virkstis, Dummerston, rrvirk@gmail.com; Patti O'Donnell, Vernon, odonnellvt@comcast.net; David Schoales, Brattleboro, schoalesd@gmail.com; or Tom Erhenberg, Putney, thomase@sover.net.

This is a very important issue facing all of us in each town and we will try to keep you as informed as we can. Please also inform others you know who want to know more about the proposed school consolidation and Act 46.

Richard Virkstis, Patti O'Donnell, David Schoales, and Tom Erhenberg, April 22


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