Northshire Act 46 panel to vote on merger plan Monday

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The changing landscape in education governance in Vermont surfaced during the Londonderry Select Board meeting of Monday, Nov. 7.

Northshire Merger Committee member Dick Dale told the board the committee will reach the end of its process at its Monday. Nov. 14 meeting. In the meantime, Board member Will Reed will write a letter on behalf of the board in opposition to proposed rule changes by the state Board of Education.

Dick Dale of the Northshire Merger Committee tells the Londonderry Select Board about the committee's progress. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

Dick Dale of the Northshire Merger Committee tells the Londonderry Select Board about the committee’s progress. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

At its last meeting, Dale said the Northshire Merger Committee, formed in response to Act 46, voted to call the new district, if it is approved, the Taconic and Green Supervisory District.

It would consist of the four towns sending students to Flood Brook Union School: Londonderry, Weston, Landgrove and Peru as well as the towns of Manchester, Dorset, Danby, Mt. Tabor and Sunderland. The committee will vote on Nov. 14 at Flood Brook School on whether to put the merger before the voters.

If the vote is to merge, then the committee will vote on whether to form the schools should form their own supervisory district or stay within the Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union. Dale said the committee has held to two guiding principles: “if it benefits kids” and maintaining the option of “school choice.” In case the new districts stays with the BRSU, negotiations on representation have already begun. At least two public information sessions will be held before March if the committee votes to merge.

Dale told the board that a “general information and dialog with everyone” will be held in Manchester on Nov. 22 regarding the state Board of Education’s vote to “curtail school choice for high school.”

School choice a hot topic

Reed also brought up the topic of school choice, offering to draft a letter in opposition to the Series 220 rule that the state Board of Education is pushing that would bring independent schools, such as Burr and Burton and Long Trail School, under many of the same restrictions as public schools. This includes the mandate that all teachers be certified, which many working in independent schools are not. The board agreed to send this letter to the newly elected representatives, the chairman of the state Board of Education and the Secretary of Education.

In other action, the board also agreed to send a letter written by Board member Paul Gordon to Agency of Transportation Secretary Chris Cole requesting that the AOT “reconsider its priorities and move up the Route 11 project or portions thereof on the list in order to accomplish its repair in a timelier fashion.”

Cole had sent state Rep. Oliver Olsen a letter stating that repaving Route 11 may not occur for another three or four years. Copies of Gordon’s letter will be sent to “all the neighboring towns, commissions and legislators that have jurisdiction or concern which parallel ours.”

And Board chair Steve Prouty agreed to accept the resignation of Zoning Administrator Jim Mullen “with extreme regrets.” Mullen was appointed by the board at its Sept. 19, 2016 meeting.

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