Letter: Merging is the best way forward

Editor of the Reformer:

After substantial investment in the process, and deep contemplation of the options, the Guilford Town School Board believes the Articles of Agreement, as presented by the Windham

Southeast Supervisory Union Act 46 Study Committee, to be the best available solution for sustainability and viability of Guilford Central School, while meeting the requirements of Act 46.

It was a 3-to-1 vote on Monday, Dec. 18, with one member of the board was absent. Following the vote, the Guilford School Board sent the Articles and a letter to the WSESU Superintendent, Lyle Holiday, to submit to the Vermont Agency of Education. That vote was the culmination of an arduous two-year process; the GTSB joined an Act 46 Study Committee with other districts of the WSESU in November 2015. Over the course of two years, the committee, as well as the GTSB, discussed, considered, and solicited input regarding compliance with Act 46. Over time, the Act 46 Study Committee developed the WSESU Articles of Agreement.

Guilford townspeople voted in early November 2017 not to send the Articles, as presented, to the AOE. Following the vote, the Board engaged with the Alternative Governance Committee (a collaboration of community members and school board members from several local towns) regarding an evolving alternate proposal. In the three Board meetings since the vote, members discussed the ideas coming from the AGS and heard many comments from community members both for and against the Articles.

GTSB is thankful to community members for their engagement in the process.

According to the board, their focus has remained the same throughout the process — to study the needs of the town and the requirements of Act 46, and to determine the best path forward for the community. It was in that light, the board members made their decision. The GTSB is very much aware of the driving forces behind Act 46, and has felt first-hand the impacts of declining enrollment and the rising costs of operating Guilford Central School. They have made tough budget decisions and been forced to limit programming opportunities in an effort to keep costs affordable to taxpayers. They recognize a necessity for imminent change.

We believe very firmly in the work that has been done to date by our local boards, administration and community, and we have a strong desire to maintain what we have all worked so hard to achieve. Guilford Central School prides itself in its dedication to place-based education and sense of local community — both are values alive within the school. We are proud of the work our students and staff do here. We believe that merging with the neighboring towns, as described in the Articles, is our best path forward to providing equity in education for all of our children and a reasonable tax rate for our taxpayers."

The Guilford Town School Board meets on the first and third Monday of every month at Guilford Central School at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Beth Bristol,

Chairwoman, Guilford Town School Board, Jan. 3


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