1. What is ACT 46?
Act 46 is a law passed by Vermont’s General Assembly that requires all districts with less than 900 students to merge with other surrounding districts until that minimum number of students is attained. The effort was based on the guiding principles of Quality, Equity, and Sustainability.
2. If our supervisory union merges will my town lose high school choice?
This will depend on the option for unification that is chosen by the supervisory union. There is nothing in the law that requires the new district to eliminate choice. We can keep any form of choice, but once we establish the choice option then all students in the new district must have the same option.
3. How can we guarantee our town will not lose high school choice?
We need to make sure that any warned article contains a high school choice provision and we have to ensure that the Articles of Agreement developed by the newly formed district includes protection of choice moving forward.
4. Can voters in two or three towns close our school?
The newly formed district can write Articles of Agreement that ensure no school will close without an Australian Ballot vote of the town so affected. One town cannot affect the closing of a school in another town even after we merge.
5. I heard there are significant tax benefits if we merge. What are they?
If we merge within the first two years of this legislation there are major tax advantages. For example, if we merge by July 1, 2017, we are able to get a 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 cent tax decrease in the first five years respectively. We also have the opportunity to secure a Merger Support Grant equal to or greater than the Small Schools Grant we now receive for Albert Bridge. We will also be held harmless from the new state Variable Spending Cap.
6. What happens in 2018 and 2019 if we do not merge?
Any district with less than 900 students that has not merged by 2018 will be assigned to another previously merged district by the Secretary of Education. The law requires the Secretary to present the State Board a final unification plan that includes all non-merged districts.
7. What are the four options in order to take advantage of the accelerated incentives?
We can do nothing and wait until 2018. We can merge with no school choice. We can merge with school choice for grades 7-12. Or, we can merge with just high schools choice grades 9-12. Remember, whatever we offer one student in the new district we have to offer all students in that same age category.
8. Why don’t we just merge with another Supervisory Union?
If we merge with another SU, then we will have to live by the choice options in that SU.