Editor's Note: This article was updated at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday to include the votes from all four towns
BRATTLEBORO — Voters in the four towns that make up the newly formed Windham Southeast School District decided overwhelmingly against withdrawing from the district.
Withdrawal of any town from the district required that voters in that town agree to withdraw and all the other towns agree to let it leave.
In Brattleboro, the vote against withdrawal was 1,555 to 226. They also voted 1,451 to 320 against allowing the other towns in the district, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney, to withdraw.
Dummerston voters rejected withdrawal by a vote of 409 to 102 and voted to prohibit any other town from withdrawing as well by a vote of 368 to 130.
In Putney, residents voted 461 to 198 against leaving the school district and 428 to 225 to allow a member town to leave.
Guilford voters agreed with their neighbors, voting 388 to 41 to stay in the district and 373 to 43 to not allow a member to leave.
Any town allowed to withdraw would have needed to establish its own town-wide school district, subject to approval by the Vermont State Board of Education.
Board Chairman David Schoales opposed a merger between the local school districts when it first came up as part of the 2015 education law Act 46. The state eventually required it even though the four towns voted against it in 2017.
But Schoales told the Reformer Tuesday night he was relieved that Brattleboro voted in opposition to withdrawal. He said the towns need more time for members of the new district to decide if it’s best for everyone. He also said, while everyone is still dealing with the pandemic, that this wasn’t a great time to drop out of the district.
“It would have been a difficult time for a transition,” said Schoales, who said he was also relieved to hear the news that all teachers will have an opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of May.
“I can’t tell you how important that is,” said Schoales, who said the district can get to work on what school will look like in the fall. “It feels like a weight has been lifted.”