Dear Staff and Community:
I hope the summer is winding down nicely. School starts on September 2nd for students. We will be ready. Needless to say, this has been a busy summer as we have gone community to community outlining the opportunities associated with ACT 46. This is a complicated piece of legislation, but we have worked hard to identify the pieces of this law that benefit all four of our towns; Hartland, Weathersfield, Windsor, and West Windsor.
We have one more community forum in West Windsor on Wednesday, August 26th at 6:30 in the Town Hall. This will be the last of eight this summer. We have learned a lot. The board and I appreciate those who showed up and spoke up about the various options. The supervisory union board's intent was a serious investigation of the possible options to merge our four town school districts to take advantages of all our strengths and to capitalize on the early adopter tax incentives provided in the law. At the end of each forum we had participants fill out a short survey form. After reviewing those surveys it was clear that a large percentage of the forum participants wanted to agree on an option. Only a small percentage indicated that we wait a year or two. So, the boards think that it was well worth it to explore our options this summer.
We are also following closely all of the discussion at the State Board of Education level. This is the Board that will have to approve our application for an accelerated merger if we can decide on an organizational option. Just recently, they reviewed the section in the law that deals with a newly formed district both operating a high school and still allowing for school choice at the high school level. In the past a district that operated a high school had to send all of their students to that high school. The State Board, referring to Section 4 of ACT 46, seems to think that there is some flexibility around this historical interpretation.
Even more recently, we found out that there may be a way to merge our school boards and merge our budgets and leave our existing choice options alone. In other words, we can form a single district and both Weathersfield and Hartland can have open high school choice; West Windsor can have open 7-12 choice; and Windsor will remain a self-contained district. So, this news has changed our option choices a bit. We can now merge under three different scenarios:
- We consolidate as one new school district and keep our existing choice options in our individual towns; Hartland and Weathersfield have 9-12; West Windsor will have 7-12; and Windsor will remain self-contained with no choice;
- We consolidate as one new school district and there is no high school choice option; all 9-12 students go to Windsor High School;
- We consolidate as one new school district and we open up public high school choice to every 9th grader, including Windsor students.
I would strongly encourage community members from all four towns to attend the West Windsor Forum on the 26th (see above). I would also encourage community members from all four towns to attend our next Supervisory Union meeting on Wednesday, September 2nd at 5pm in the Windsor School Auditorium. That board may decide on an option at that meeting and authorize the Executive Committee to submit a proposal to the State Board. Remember, this will not lock us into a merger but will allow us to offer a specific proposal to the State Board to see if they will approve it.
Again, I want to thank board members and community members for taking so much time out of their summer to investigate our options. This is an historic moment for the state and for us. I have always said that our four communities work so well together. We have great boards; great families; great communities; and great children. In the end, if we can patiently hang together, we will form one of the best merged districts in that state.
Dr. David Baker
Superintendent of Schools
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union