REGION – On December 20, the Vermont State Board of Education unanimously approved the Northshire Merger Study Committee’s proposal to merge the school districts of the towns of Londonderry, Weston, Landgrove, Peru, Danby, Mt. Tabor, Sunderland, Dorset and Manchester into the new Taconic and Green Regional School District. Chairman Jon Wilson, Vice-Chair Richard Grip, and committee consultant Dan French presented the merger proposal to the Board at their meeting at U-32 Middle & High School.
With this vote, the State Board of Education followed the guidance of the Secretary of Education’s recommendations and determined that the proposed merger is “in the best interests of the State, the students, and the school districts.” The board also provided “preliminary support for a waiver regarding supervisory union board composition” if the merger is passed by the voters. After the meeting, Chairman Jon Wilson said, “We are very pleased with how things went today. Not only was the board very complementary of the report we put together, but they also indicated that they would work in good faith to grant us adequate representation on a future supervisory union board.” Because the proposed merged district would represent over 60% of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union population, the merger committee had requested a waiver to the statutory supervisory union board composition rules. Vice-Chair Richard Grip said after the meeting. “We were very clear with the state board that this proposed merger would lose a lot of popular support in our electorates if the proposed merged district did not receive at least half of the representation on a future SU Board. They listened, responded, and capped off the end of a very pleasant meeting.”
Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe was also pleased with the hard work of the Northshire committee. Before the board approved her recommended actions, the Secretary said “I want to say a special thank you for taking such a regional approach because we do need regional solutions. I appreciate your willingness to take a long view, and have a broad vision because I think that is going to be critical to getting good solutions in your area.”
While Wilson breathed a sigh of relief once the meeting was over, he acknowledged some of the hardest work is yet to come and urges voters to begin educating themselves by reading the report presented to State Board of Ed. It can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/northshiremergerstudy/.