Story below originally published here.
WEST WINDSOR, Vt.
A new law hopes to make school districts more efficient by consolidating, but a lot of people have questions about what impact it will have on education.
Communities in the Green Mountain State like Windsor are starting the conversation now before its hand is forced through mandatory consolidation.
Now it falls on the grown-ups to do their homework. Monday evening, a curious group came to West Windsor to find answers about Act 46 and how it impacts the areas four school districts.
"Let's try to bring these boards together, so that they can start to make mutual decisions around approximate territory or area in terms of all the kids in that region," said Windsor South East Supervisory Union Superintendent David Baker.
Baker says over the past decade, public school enrollment has declined, but budgets and staff are on the rise state wide. Consolidation wouldn't give as much local control as the current system, but Baker is optimistic.
"We'll still be able to provide the quality service they've been used to, maybe even in a better way because we'll be able to do it with a little more efficiency, and a little more uniformity," Baker said.
That's why this Supervisory Union is engaging the community, trying to discuss the options. Districts that start the process early through what's called "Early Acceleration" get some benefits.
"Some of the best tax incentives and some of the best organizational incentives are built into the first two years if this bill," Baker said.
WSESU has only 15-hundred students between the four districts. The state goal of merging is to make quality options for students that are equal and sustainable.
"Trying to make sure that two schools in two towns side by side don't have disequilibrium for opportunities," Baker said.
If school districts don't make a move to consolidate by 2018, the Secretary of Education must assign them to a merged district. In these merging votes, the decision needs to be unanimous across all school districts in order to consolidate.
There will be five more meetings for WSESU in August to help answer community questions. You can always learn more by visiting its website.
August 3rd - Windsor 6:30PM, Room 210 Windsor School District
August 10th - Weathersfield 6:30PM, Weathersfield School
August 11th - Hartland 6:30PM, Hartland School Library
August 17th - Hartland 6:30PM, Hartland School Library
August 26th - West Windsor 6:30PM, Town Hall