Commissioner Calls For School District Mergers

05/18/11 4:04PM By Jane Lindholm

(Host) Voters in Vergennes rejected a planned school board merger Tuesday.

On Town Meeting Day, all five towns in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union approved a plan to merge their five school boards. But petitions in Addison and Vergennes put the merger up for another vote.

The defeat in Vergennes effectively kills the deal. Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca worries this will have a chilling effect on other districts considering school board mergers.

(Vilaseca) "I am disappointed by the fact that it was not approved because I do believe that would have been better for all of the students in that district now and in the future. And it also would have acted as a model for other districts around the state that Addison Northwest was able to do this."

(Host) Act 153, which was approved by the Legislature last year, requires all Supervisory Unions to consider district consolidation. Vilaseca has been a big proponent of the idea.

(Vilaseca) "Over the long run, when we have more efficient operations of our schools, more unified vision where we have purchasing power, hiring power, the ability to move children around based on whether they decide on school choice within the district or not, there are a lot of opportunities that in the long run I do believe would start holding back some of the increases in school costs."

(Host) Opponents of district consolidation worry that it will eventually lead to school closures and reduce local control.

The towns of Bolton, Huntington, Jericho, Richmond and Underhill will vote on a unification plan for their Chittenden East Supervisory Union on June 7th.

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school_consolidation vergennes armando_vilaseca education cities
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