“I don’t think the state has a clue what is best for the children and residents of Windham when it comes to education,” he told the Reformer. “To think we will have one representative on an 11-person board is a joke.”
Here’s a proposal to rein in costs, reinstate some measure of local control and inject accountability into the process: Have the Legislature set a uniform per-pupil spending level, but allow local school boards full rein over how to best spend the money, free from state-level interference.
A long-awaited report from Vermont’s education secretary recommends the merger of the Bennington Incorporated District, the Pownal Elementary District, the Shaftsbury Elementary District and the Woodford Elementary District into a single union elementary school district.
The single unified union school district would educate pre-k-12 students 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.
The ruling elite of all parties in Vermont have doubled down on this approach with the coercive and tyrannical Act 46. The political promises of reduced costs, lower taxes, equality of education and increased opportunities were false. The exact opposite result is happening. The next phase of Act 46 will be Gov. Scott’s school closing commission. This for me is unacceptable.
The Agency of Education has recommended 18 consolidations for school districts that haven’t yet merged in accordance with Act 46. But of 43 districts or groups of districts that filed “Section 9” proposals for alternative governance structures, 22 shouldn’t have to merge, according to a report released Friday.
A letter going to the Vermont Agency of Education with signatures from three out of town’s five Select Board members encourages state officials to listen to the voters. And the same ratio of Brattleboro Town School Board members has supported sending a similar letter.
Select Board members tabled the request to send the letter to the Vermont Agency of Education so they could learn more about the two Act 46 plans being considered, and review the proposed letter more closely.
Vermont’s education funding law Act 60/68 needs to be revisited and repealed. It has exacerbated the increase in taxes by creating a fund that is too often subject to raids by duplicitous politicians. Local control, including education financing, could be returned to the local citizenry, where it rightfully belongs.
With Vermont set to pay $31 million in incentives for districts that agreed to merge under the state’s education consolidation law, critics of Act 46 say the payouts are unfair and hurt poor rural areas.
“If we keep it open as a public school, the discussion will not end, we will be at this again and again. … (But) if we turn Black River into an independent school, its destiny is in the hands of the community, not the Vermont Agency of Education.”