Dear Parents, Guardians and Community:
It has been a little while since I updated everyone on our progress with ACT 46. I hope everyone enjoyed the vacation and is ready to send the kids back to us. Act 46 is a complicated piece of legislation that is getting interpreted and re-interpreted almost weekly. It is further complicated in our supervisory union because we have three towns that offer school choice and one town that does not. Five supervisory unions did approve Act 46 plans in March, but these towns had an advantage over us. These supervisory unions, for the most part, already required their middle school students to go to the same high school. These communities do not have to wrestle with school choice like we do.
The Act 46 Study Committee has been working hard. We are starting to meet more often. Needless to say, one of the most critical issues facing the committee has to do with continuing or not continuing school choice. Given that debate, the committee decided that there was no way to meet the Accelerated, first year options. There was simply too much research to do. So we are spending time outlining possible scenarios, with and without choice, that might be supported by our communities. The committee does not want to put a lot of work into an option that has no chance of voter approval. Essentially, if we are going to move forward as a supervisory union, our options are limited. We either have to give up choice and establish a regional high school; or we have to design some type of side-by-side arrangement that will allow us to keep choice in all or some of our communities.
At present, there is a sub-committee of the Study Committee that is looking at all of the financial models associated with those types of options.We are reporting that financial information back to the full committee on Wednesday, April 20th at 6:00 PM in Room 210 at Windsor. The public is always welcome to attend. This financial research does not mean that a decision will be made solely on a financial basis. In fact, the Study Committee, under the direction of facilitator Diana Watson, has been looking at several issues related to quality education. The essential question is always, "How will a new model be better for our children educationally?" The Study Committee is strongly committed to quality. This has been reassuring.
There is a strong sense that a decision needs to be made by this summer. This is for two reasons. First we need time to bring our option(s) to our various communities in forum fashion. If we are going to have a vote during the 2016-2017 school year, then we have to move rather quickly at this point. There is some speculation that a November vote would be desirable because it would allow for good voter participation during a presidential election year. Secondly, if a decision can't be reached, we have to leave enough time for the four communities to explore other options with other communities.We do not want to lose our solidarity as a supervisory union, but if left with no viable choice, it may be the only option. That said, I remain optimistic that we will find an internal solution.
I want to thank the members of the Study Committee for their dedication to the process. I want to thank our school boards for their patience. I encourage our communities to communicate with the Study Committee representatives from their towns. And finally, I want to encourage folks to attend the Act 46 meetings. The next one, as stated above, is on the 20th. The website contains lots of information and the minutes and schedule of the Study Committee. Everyone should be able to follow the updates.
I welcome everyone back on Monday. This supervisory union is such a good place to be. We have great teachers, wonderful kids, and a supportive community. This makes for a great foundation for whatever future lies ahead.