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.
While the state government doubles down on implementing forced school district mergers under Act 46, a host of local residents and stakeholders are threatening to close down schools rather than subject them to the Act 46 process.
On Primary Day, voters in Groton, Wells River and Ryegate voted to close Blue Mountain Union School to prevent a Montpelier-forced merger.
The struggle between the Agency of Education and Cabot over what to do with its school system only got more complicated now that the state is rejecting the community’s proposal for an alternative district.
Washington Central Supervisory Union’s six school boards are in for a struggle with the Agency of Education over whether they will be forced to merge their boards and budget.
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.
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.
Vermont’s education funding law Act 60/68 needs to be revisited and repealed.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.