This article by Patricia LeBoeuf originally appeared Nov. 15 in the Bennington Banner.
Despite objections to the timing of its decision, the State Board of Education voted Thursday to make the Arlington and Sandgate school districts part of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union as of July 1, 2021.
The board made the decision over opposition from the involved supervisory unions, which unsuccessfully sought a six-month delay to study the idea. Arlington and Sandgate currently make up the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union, one of the smallest SUs in the state.
“If this plan goes forward, our supervisory union will be dealing with a forced merger at the same time that we are asked to take on two new districts,” Jim Culkeen, superintendent of the SVSU, said in his testimony to the board Thursday, according to a statement from the SVSU. “To add this at this time will overtax our resources, both personnel and financial.
“We were notified of this proposal on Monday, November 5. Since then, I did my best to reach out to board members, but the SVSU board has not met formally, and there have been no formal votes or board discussion.”
The forced merger refers to a recommendation from then-Acting Secretary of Education Heather Bouchey that the Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford districts be merged into a grade pre-K-to-6 union elementary school district.
Read full story at the Bennington Banner.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)