Act 46: Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union schools’ future up to voters

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

BENNINGTON — On Nov. 7 voters of Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford will be asked to decide whether or not to adopt a proposal that would bring their schools into compliance with Act 46 by merging the districts into a single pre-K through 12 district with one board and one budget.

The process that led to this point has lasted over two years and has involved three study committees, dozens of public meetings, and countless proposals for how to best meet the requirements of the law.

Opponents see loss of local control as a major reason to oppose the plan. “They keep referring to this as being like MAU. This is nothing like MAU,” said Nelson Brownell of Pownal, who chairs the SVSU board and represents his community on the MAU board. “They are doing away with MAU and creating a new super-board… By having this super-board, all the power is taken away, the local control of the small districts. To say it’s like the MAU is more of a sound-bite than a factual thing. It goes back to the loss of local control, and what people have considered local control for years.”

“What might work for Burlington and Rutland, I don’t see that functioning well (here), especially with our population dropping,” Brownell said.

For proponents like Bennington School Board Chairman Chris Murphy, the proposed merger represents an opportunity. “The present school governance structure creates a sense of ‘us and them,'” he said. “‘We’re Bennington and they’re Shaftsbury, we’re Pownal and they’re Woodford.’ But at seventh grade, we can see that there is no ‘us and them,’ it’s just ‘us.’ It’s all of our kids. In a very real sense, this merger fulfills the promise begun by the supervisory union, in that it creates a union, a unity, and it dissolves this illusion of ‘us and them.'”

Read full article at the Bennington Banner.

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

2 thoughts on “Act 46: Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union schools’ future up to voters

  1. From the full article: Its [Act 46] goals: To move the state towards more sustainable models of education governance while providing equity in the quality and variety of educational opportunities, maximizing operational efficiencies, and promoting transparency, and that all of those services are, “delivered at a cost that parents, voters, and taxpayers value.”

    There is nothing in this statement about a goal of a quality education. Just that the aim is for the quality to be equal, which is in keeping with the Brigham decision and the results since that decision, with Act 60 and Act 68. This is where all socialistic ideas lead – equally poor for everyone.

  2. Re: “…it creates a union, a unity, and it dissolves this illusion of ‘us and them’.”

    Yes. That’s just what an Act 46 merger does.

    But since when is ‘us and them’ an illusion. The anti ‘us and them’ narrative is just another way of eliminating individual accountability and responsibility. Without alternatives, we can’t recognize educational innovation and improvement. ‘One-size-fits-all’ benefits stagnate education special interest groups and the politicians supporting them, not taxpayers, parents or their children.

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