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Many school budget votes delayed amid Act 46 fight

March 3, 2019

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — School budgets are typically debated and voted on on Town Meeting Day in early March but this year many votes will be delayed amid the fight over the forced school district mergers under Act 46.

The Vermont State Board of Education ordered some school districts to merge in November and organizational meetings were scheduled. The state had wanted voters to elect a transitional board, work on a budget and ensure schools were ready to pay their bills when the fiscal year starts on July 1, Vermont Public Radio reported .

But a number of those meetings have been delayed.

Thirty-four school districts have sued the state over the forced consolidations. They hope a judge will put the mergers on hold until the case is resolved.

At a meeting this past week for the Windham Southeast Unified Union School District, which includes the towns of Brattleboro, Guilford, Dummerston and Putney, Act 46 opponents voted to postpone the meeting. Meetings in six other newly merged school districts around Vermont were also pushed back.

“We have a rift. And there’s been a lot of hurt and a lot of pain going through this process,” said Dummerston resident Read Miller, who said it made sense to postpone the vote. “And I suggest that if we allow ourselves to come together after that decision is made then we’re all working in the same direction.”

Franz Reichsman of Brattleboro, said voters deserve to know what the school budget will be.

“We have to get down to the business of creating and then passing a budget, whether it be for the unified school district, if there’s no action in the courts or the legislature, or whether it be for individual school districts,” Reichsman said. “However that goes, I think we have to get started on it now.”

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Information from: WVPS-FM, http://www.vpr.net