Northshire merger panel unanimous in vote for larger district

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Northshire Merger Study Committee voted unanimously on Monday, Nov. 14 to recommend to the State Board of Education that a new school supervisory district be created. To be called the Taconic and Green District, it would be a part of the current Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union.

Deb Lyneis represented Weston on the Northshire study committee

Deb Lyneis represented Weston on the Northshire study committee. Telegraph file photos.

The towns comprising the Mountain Town Regional Education District  — Londonderry, Weston, Landgrave and Peru as well as Dorset and Manchester — must vote yes at Town Meeting, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, for the new district to be formed. If any of those towns vote no, the merger will fail.

The towns of Danby, Mt. Tabor and Sunderland are considered “advisable.” If they voted not to join the district, they would be left to start the merger process again but the district would still be able to form.

The merger is a result of Act 46, the statewide school district consolidation law.

The Northshire committee’s report will be sent to the Vermont Agency of Education, which will make a recommendation to the State Board of Education. The committee hopes to place the proposal before the State Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

The report will be available to the public and will include sections on tax implications, a narrative of the committee process, assets and liabilities, school choice, school closure and regional representation.

Voters on March 7 will vote on the merger itself and for members of the current school board as well as the future board. The current school board would meet for one year while the new board, possibly consisting of the same people, sets up to take over the new expanded district. The new board will be voted on at “at large” basis with candidates from all the towns on the ballots in all the towns.

Committee member Dick Dale briefing the Londonderry Select Board on the progress of the merger

Committee member Dick Dale briefs the Londonderry Select Board on the progress of the merger at a recent meeting.

Debra Lyneis, a committee member from Weston, stressed that, “This merger preserves 9 through 12 grade school choice, which we value as a way to provide equity, quality and variety for our students.”

Londonderry representative Dick Dale said that the committee members are no longer obligated to discuss the cons. “Having voted for this merger as a unanimous committee, we weighed the cons, we weighed the positives and we all said ‘Go for it!’ We are now in the business of arguing the pros.” Lyneis will tell people in the RED, “We’ve tried this and it is better for our kids.”

Committee chair Jon Wilson read the core beliefs stated in the committee’s report. “We believe that in the event of a merger, the children of all of our towns will become all our kids. The children of neighboring towns are equally important as the children in my town. We believe the proposed bylaws provide options and policies for future boards. We believe our kids will benefit since the merger would better secure programing from fluctuating enrollment and fiscal uncertainty. We believe students’ families, local businesses and taxpayers will benefit from our towns’ cohesive commitment to K to 8 public education and 9 through 12 choice. We believe our communities must work thoughtfully and swiftly in hopes of controlling our own destiny.”

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