Agency’s school merger proposition gets mixed reviews in Brattleboro

This article by Chris Mays originally appeared June 5 in the Brattleboro Reformer.

BRATTLEBORO — Proponents and critics of the Act 46 merger proposed by the Agency of Education for school districts in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney have begun staking out ground to work with the state’s proposal, or attempt to convince the Board of Education once and for all that it’s not wanted.

Alice Laughlin, chairwoman of the Act 46 Study Committee and the Putney Central School Board, called the merger proposal, released Friday, “the only logical approach for providing kids in the four towns an equitable and quality education that is sustainable.”

“This has been a highly politicized consideration, however, and hopefully the state board won’t be swayed by arguments that place the sustainability and accessibility of excellent public education in the Brattleboro area at risk,” she said.

Meanwhile, Paul Normandeau, of Dummerston, said the proposed plan shows “a complete lack of respect” for voters in the four towns “who overwhelmingly voted against merging along with the many other towns that rejected [a] merger.”

“If that is what they were going to do from the start, why did they have to bribe the towns with so called incentives and have communities engage in over two-and-a-half years of work?” he said. “Was it just to make it look like community input was valued?”

And his son Dan Normandeu, also of Dummerston, is inviting state representatives and senators to help in the efforts against a merger.

“There is a very organized group of people locally, regionally and statewide working to protect our excellent small rural schools and to provide the best education for our children, as well as to promote the vitality and economic health of our rural communities,” he said. “We welcome your engagement with us.”

The proposal, issued last Friday by the Vermont Agency of Education and acting secretary of education Heather Bouchey, would create a single K-12 and include the current governance structures of the Brattleboro Union High School District, Brattleboro School District, Dummerston School District, Guilford School District and Putney School District. Voters in all four towns turned down a similar plan last fall.

Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.

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

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/John Phelan

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