Merger vote moved back for Windham Southeast Supervisory Union


BRATTLEBORO — A vote on whether school districts within the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union should become one — as a way to comply with Act 46, the state law mandating mergers — has been rescheduled.

After meeting with town clerks, the WSESU Act 46 Committee agreed not to have the question posed to voters on Nov. 8, the same day the president of the United States is being elected.

"It would have just created so many problems," Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy said. "Having it on (annual) Town Meeting would be fine because it would be another local election."

Procedures and deadlines for federal elections are not the same as local ones, she said.

"It's comparing apples to oranges," Cappy said. "Town Meeting is perfectly fine. It's an appropriate place to do it. When doing a Town Meeting vote, you're having voters coming out that are interested in local events."

The November election draws people who are only interested in voting in the presidential election, according to Cappy. The Vermont tradition of annual Town Meeting in March brings in residents who want to have a say on local budgets, issues and candidates.

WSESU Superintendent Ron Stahley said the other part of putting off the vote had to with members of the study committee feeling "we had missed some of the deadlines with the federal vote." A new board of nine people was going to be elected on the same day.

"We also decided to separate the votes and that was based on advice from the Agency of Education," he said, referring to the question of whether to allow Vernon out of the Brattleboro Union High School district. "Combining the Vernon and merger vote together would be confusing."

The date for towns to vote on Vernon has yet to be established. Stahley said it has to be within 90 days of when Vernon's decision to leave the high school union was certified by the state. The town's residents approved of the departure on Aug. 9. The major reason involved maintaining school choice after elementary school.

So far, there has been no notification from the state. But school officials believe the vote could happen in January or December. All the other members of the union also need to approve.

The delay will not affect the new district's ability to obtain funding in the second round of transition grants, previously referred to as tax incentives.

"This whole thing would have to happen before July 2017," Stahley said. "So we're still within that window."

Informational sessions about the Vernon vote will be held in communities during October and November. The votes will be held in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney. Meetings about the potential merger between those school districts will pop up in January and February.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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