This article by Derek Carson originally appeared Monday in the Bennington Banner.
BENNINGTON — On Tuesday four communities will make their voices heard on the future of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.
Floor meetings were held on Monday night in Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford, the towns that will accept or reject a proposal to merge their school districts, along with Mount Anthony Union, into a single pre-K through twelfth grade district with one school board and one tax rate. The proposal would bring the districts into compliance with Act 46 of 2015.
Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents of the Bennington School District will cast their ballots at the Bennington Fire Station, Pownal School District residents at Pownal Center Firehouse, Shaftsbury School District residents at the Buck Hill Road Firehouse, and Woodford School District at the Woodford Town Office Building. Residents of the North Bennington Graded School District, which includes Shaftsbury District 1, will not be voting, as the merged governance structure being discussed by the other districts of the SVSU is not compatible with North Bennington’s structure, which offers school choice for residents in grades pre-K through six.
The first two pages of the ballot, which can be viewed in full on the SVSU website, focus on Article A, the question of whether or not to form the Mount Anthony Unified School District under the terms listed on the ballot. Those articles of agreement were drafted by the SVSU’s Act 46 Study Committee, working alongside consultant Dan French.
In order for the new school district to come into existence, Bennington and at least two of the three remaining towns will need to vote in favor of the merger.
If the proposal passes, the new district will assume control of all assets and liabilities of the merging districts on the day it begins operation, July 1, 2019.
If the merger proposal passes, but one of the districts votes ‘no,’ that district will find itself in a similar situation to North Bennington, in that it will still be a part of the SVSU and will still send their middle and high school students to Mount Anthony, which will now be operated by the unified district board. That district would maintain its representation on the unified board, but they would only be able to vote on items related to the middle and high school. The community would maintain its elementary school board, which would continue to oversee the elementary education of its students as it does now.
If the proposal does not pass, each district’s board would need to report to the State Board of Education in December on ways they are already meeting Act 46’s goals.
Read full article at the Bennington Banner.
(Fair use with permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)