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Vermont Board of Education to soon decide school mergers

September 21, 2018

CHESTER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Board of Education has held its last public meeting before it decides which school districts that haven’t voluntarily merged should.

The board ended its series of meetings in Chester on Wednesday after hearing from school districts and residents in the Northeast Kingdom town of Newark and Montpelier, Vermont Public Radio reported.

While some speakers supported the plan at Wednesday’s meeting, the majority opposed the state’s plan to consolidate districts that did not voluntarily merge under the state’s school consolidation law.

The Vermont Secretary of Education issued a draft statewide plan June 1 which recommended 18 new school districts.

“We understood when we passed the law, that the local vote, in regard to any proposed governance merger, was designed to guarantee that any change in governance structure would have to be acceptable to the voters in those districts affected,” Sen. Becca Balint of Windham County said. “I just urge you to remember what the intent was, and what we were trying to achieve because we all want equity for our children.”

The board has until Nov. 30 to submit its final school district merger plan.

“When the Legislature gave us this job, they said the report came out in June that had to be done Nov. 30,” said State Board of Education Chairwoman Krista Huling. “We only meet once a month and to adjust to that, the State Board has already added three additional meetings, and we are working on a short timeline that we did not create.”

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