To the editor: Answers to Act 46 merger questions

Saturday’s Andover Information Forum on the proposed school merger was attended by about 25 voters and generated a many good questions. What follows is a recap of the questions and the answers that were discussed:

Why are we talking about a merger?

ACT 46 requires that small, local school districts consolidate into larger unified school districts. If such consolidations are not achieved locally the State Board of Education has the mandate to do it for us.

The proposed district includes Andover, Baltimore Cavendish and Chester. Why is Ludlow not part of the proposed district?

The school boards of Ludlow and Mount Holly, which jointly operate Black River High School, have voted to pursue consolidation with the Mill River District. Their voters will decide that issue on May 30. The Town of Plymouth has voted to join Woodstock.

Will my school taxes be lower if we vote for the proposed district?

State information shows that this year Andover’s pre CLA tax rate is $1.47/100; this will go to approximately $1.59/100 if no changes are made. Projections show that the tax rate for the new District is estimated to $1.47/100.

Can we send a message to the state by voting down the merger?

So far the legislature has not changed the law in response to the merger proposals that have been voted
down in Vermont. The State Board of Education has no choice but to implement the law as it stands.

Should we vote no in hopes that the legislature will change the Law?

With the legislature about to adjourn, nothing will change before the next session and the Board of Education
is required to have a state-wide plan for consolidating school districts in 2018.

If the vote is no will the current districts remain as they are?

The current structure will not survive any state restructuring plan. The State Board of Education has a mandate to
create large unified school districts and Andover will likely be combined with a much larger district. Being combined with a district that has higher expenses will increase our tax rate.

If we vote yes what will we gain?

Approval of the merger will bring property tax reductions of 8, 6, 4 and 2 cents/100 over the next 4 years;
Andover will also retain the hold harmless provision in the current law and we will be eligible for a transition grant
of $150,000.00 to help in establishing policies and procedures for the new district.

Will any schools be closed because of the merger?

The merger committee has found that both elementary schools are well utilized and that the high school has space for additional students. There are no plans to change the pre-school collaborative for 3 and 4 year old Students.

Joseph Fromberger
Andover Town School director

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