REGION – Vermont voters across the state gave their approval to the vast majority of school district merger proposals offered during Town Meeting Day 2017. All told, seven of the 10 proposals received voter approval.
“The types of changes and opportunities contemplated by Act 46 require that school board members navigate some of the most challenging and significant issues facing public education today,” said Nicole Mace, executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association. “As you can see by the historic results, Vermont’s school board members have risen to the challenges posed by declining enrollment, rising costs, leadership turnover, and growing inequity in student opportunity, and are charting a positive course forward for public education in Vermont. This course builds upon our strengths but recognizes that preserving the status quo is not in the best interests of the students and communities we serve.”
Voters in 40 school districts across 10 supervisory unions gave their approval to merge into larger school districts.
The successful merger votes include:
· Addison-Rutland (Slate Valley);
· Bennington-Rutland (Taconic & Green);
· Cal North & Essex-Cal (Kingdom East);
· Cal North, Essex-Cal & Essex North non-op (NEK Choice);
· Windham Central K-12 (West River);
· Windsor Central.
Voters in 13 districts voted against merging, resulting in failed merger proposals in:
· Rutland Central & Rutland Southwest K-6 (Wells Springs);
· Windham Central K-6 (River Valley);
· Windham Northeast.
While voters in Rutland Central & Rutland Southwest K-12 (Quarry Valley) approved their merger proposal, the merger will not occur because Rutland Central & Rutland Southwest K-6 (Wells Springs) defeated their proposal.
In many places, voters approved merger proposals by wide margins, including:
· Cal North & Essex-Cal (Kingdom East) 973-337 (74 percent)
· Bennington-Rutland (Taconic & Green) 1,596-540 (75 percent)
· Windsor Central 900-296 (75 percent)
All told, 40 school districts will merge into a total of 12 districts, six of which will be new.
“In most communities, work by local officials to understand and confront the challenges facing schools and taxpayers leads to support for unification,” said Jeff Francis, executive director of the Vermont Superintendents Association. “I am impressed both by these vote results and the sentiment behind it – which is creating better opportunity for students and greater affordability for taxpayers.”