Act 46 proposal fails by 4 votes in Pownal, 2 in Woodford

This article by Derek Carson originally appeared Tuesday in the Bennington Banner.

BENNINGTON — The merger proposal that would have created the Mount Anthony Unified School District out of the Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, Woodford, and Mount Anthony Union school districts has failed.

After passing with almost two-thirds of the vote in Shaftsbury and three-quarters of the vote in Bennington, the proposal was defeated by four votes in Pownal and two votes in Woodford. The ballot article would have needed positive votes in three out of the four communities to pass.

In total the four communities supported the endeavor by a vote of 1,533 to 766. Bennington voted 965-338, Shaftsbury 322-176, Pownal 210-214, and Woodford 36-38.

The results will need to be ratified by the Agency of Education before they are considered official.

Donald Campbell, chairman of the Act 46 study committee that drafted the proposal, called the results “frustrating.”

Opponents to the merger held many concerns, including a perceived lack of local control under a unified regional board, questions related to how costs would be shared, and a desire to continue doing things as they’ve been done for years.

“I’m definitely not going to vote for it,” said Fran Kinney, who represents Shaftsbury on its school board as well as on the Mount Anthony Union Board. “I would rather have the state come down and do their thing. We keep hearing the threats that the state is going to come down, I want them to. The state’s never followed through on anything to begin with. I think if they come down and see what we have, we’re doing 85 percent of the consolidation pieces as it is right now anyway, so I can’t imagine that they’re going to change too much. I want the state to be accountable and I want them to be responsible… Let’s see what they’re going to do, because I don’t think they’re going to do a heck of a lot.”

Read full article at the Bennington Banner.

(Fair use with permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)

Image courtesy of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union