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Guilford School Board approves Act 46 provisions

GUILFORD—The Guilford Town School Board recently made its official recommendation to the Vermont Agency of Education regarding compliance with Act 46.

In a news release, Board Chair Beth Bristol said that “after substantial investment in the process, and deep contemplation of the options, the Guilford Town School Board believes the Articles of Agreement, as presented by the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Act 46 Study Committee, to be the best available solution for sustainability and viability of Guilford Central School, while meeting the requirements of Act 46.”

At its Dec. 18 meeting, Brisol said the board voted 3-1 in favor of the Articles, with one member absent. Following the vote, the school board sent the Articles and a letter to the Windham Southeast Superintendent Lyle Holiday to submit to the Vermont Agency of Education ahead of its deadline of Dec. 26.

This acton was taken despite a majority of Guilford’s voters casting ballots on Nov. 7 to not send AOE these Articles.

Bristol said that, after the vote, the Board engaged with the Alternative Governance Committee — a collaboration of community members and school board members from several local towns — regarding an evolving alternate proposal.

She said that in the three Board meetings since the vote, “members discussed the ideas coming from the AGS and heard many comments from community members both for and against the Articles.”

While Bristol said the Board “is very much aware of the driving forces behind Act 46, and has felt firsthand the impacts of declining enrollment and the rising costs of operating Guilford Central School,” and it recognized “a necessity for imminent change.”

In a statement after the Dec. 18 meeting, the board said it believes “very firmly in the work that has been done to date by our local boards, administration, and community, and we have a strong desire to maintain what we have all worked so hard to achieve.

“Guilford Central School prides itself in its dedication to place-based education and sense of local community — both are values alive within the school.

“We are proud of the work our students and staff do here. We believe that merging with the neighboring towns, as described in the Articles, is our best path forward to providing equity in education for all of our children and a reasonable tax rate for our taxpayers.“

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Originally published in The Commons issue #441 (Wednesday, January 10, 2018). This story appeared on page C1.

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