North Bennington Votes To Create Independent School

10/24/12 7:04PM By Susan Keese

Residents of North Bennington have voted for a second time to close their public school and create an independent school in its place.

The bid to close the North Bennington Graded School won by a much smaller margin than last March, when voters agreed to close the school by July of this year.

The revote was held because the new independent school wasn't approved in time to open by September. The public school is still open, and the application for the new North Bennington Village School has been repeatedly tabled by the State Board of Education.

Ray Mullineaux chairs North Bennington's school board which supports independence.

He says the delay has caused some supporters to waver.

"There's a lot of publicity about this, a lot of resistance at the state board level to approving the Village school application and that left room for people to dig up all sorts of questions that they wanted answered. And we did that," Mullineaux says. "But it basically brings out more negative votes."

Stephan Morse chairs the State Board of Education. He says the law requires the board to approve independent schools that have been reviewed by the Department of Education.

Morse says he doesn't think the law was meant to close public schools to set up private ones. "So the law may need some attention, but the Board of Education must use the law that's on the books when the application comes before us."

Morse says he isn't sure whether the application would come up at the board's next meeting in November.

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