The Westminster School Board has voted to go to court if necessary to fight the forced merger of its schools with the towns of Athens and Grafton.
Voters in Windham will be asked next month if they want to close the Windham School if the state Board of Education follows through on threats to force the tiny school into a merger with other West River valley schools.
At least 21 school districts are considering going to court if the Agency of Education forces mergers on them, and they’ve got a group of lawyers ready to go.
“Arlington always struggled with Act 46, because they never had a natural partner to even have merger discussions with,” he said. “I can say with 100 percent certainty that Arlington won’t merge, because there is no merger partner for them.”
The candidate who made national headlines for winning six primary election contests in August is waging an even bigger battle in Vermont’s highest court: the battle over Act 46.
Rep. Carolyn Partridge, chairwoman of the Windham School Board, said the board would hold a special meeting next Monday afternoon to chart its course, which likely will include closing the tiny Windham School, selling the building to the town, and tuitioning its students.
Holland residents voted to close their school in part to protest what they perceive to be the state’s overreach into local affairs, as well as to preserve their community.
Vilaseca explained that “after seven or eight years, if the districts haven’t joined together, then the State will come in.” He did not mean that the state would “come in” with preaching and incentives. He meant that the state would come in with a Big Hammer.
School districts that are considering closing their schools are in a race against time. They must act before they are merged with other districts, because once these districts are forced to merge, they lose their autonomy and authority to govern their district.
Judge Robert Gerety will decide whether attorneys present more evidence in a case against the state by the town of Whitingham, a student and a taxpayer. The plaintiffs allege the school funding system creates inequity regarding education quality and tax rates.
The draft articles of agreement provide protection against closure for two academic years, 2019-20 and 2020-21, unless the closure is approved by voters living in the town where the school is located.