Letter: Please vote no on school merger

Editor of the Reformer:

I believe strongly that an Act 46 merger will negatively affect the children and the teachers in the Brattleboro schools. As we all know, Brattleboro has a much higher rate of poverty than other towns in the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union and we also have many families who have been negatively affected by the opioid epidemic with families being disrupted and children in foster care or being raised by caring grandparents.

Brattleboro's school board, supported by our Town meeting Representatives, has implemented many programs to help these children and other children, who have learning and emotional disabilities, be successful in school. We have many paraprofessionals in the classroom, after school tutoring, summer school, behavioral interventionists and, this year, Brattleboro added a social worker to specifically address the family issues resulting from the opioid epidemic. In spite of these additional programs, Brattleboro currently has the lowest school tax rate of any of the towns in the WSESU.

However, this will change if the Act 46 Merger is approved. First of all, since all town tax rates in a merged district have to be the same, Brattleboro's school tax rate will rise to match the other towns. Even more important, for Brattleboro schools, is the fact that Act 46 is primarily about cutting costs. The huge savings promised to the Legislature by the Picus Report is all about cutting staff. The Picus Report does not believe in having support staff like paraprofessionals, in a classroom. They believe the classroom teacher should handle all the behavioral and learning challenges of all the children in a classroom.

Teachers and parents who know the needs of their students and children and the importance of support staff in our schools should vote down this merger. Please go to the polls and vote no to the Act 46 merger on Nov. 7.

Judy Davidson

Brattleboro, Oct. 25


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