PAWLET, Vt. (AP) — Voters in two Vermont towns have approved the merger of their school districts amid a statewide effort to deal with declining enrollment.

The Manchester Journal reports the proposal was approved last week by voters in Pawlet and Rupert.

The plan will allow students to continue attending school across the border in New York. It will also mean they can receive tuition money to attend private Vermont schools, which officials say will likely mean tax increases.

The merger requires that the new school district be ready for operation by July 1, 2018. It will be partnered with the recently approved Taconic and Green Regional School District in a side-by-side merger, and both districts must "go live" on the same day.