I was surprised and confused when I read the about the push to break up the Windham Southeast School District. Since then, I have spent hours attending meetings and researching this proposal in an attempt to understand its implications.
It turns out that there are many unanswered questions and potentially concerning outcomes. And yet, voters in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney must decide to approve or oppose these articles on the Tuesday, March 2 Town Meeting ballot.
I urge you to vote no for the following reasons:
• The merged district has financial benefits, and breaking it up would result in higher tax rates for all towns.
• WSESD has articles of agreement that protect our small schools. If we dissolve the district, we lose those protections. We could be forced to merge again, without those original safeguards.
• This vote is ill-timed. We should be focusing on helping our students, teachers, school staff, and administrators continue to weather the stressful impacts of the pandemic. Breaking up our school district will undoubtedly cause more work and more stress for them.
• Given the newness of the merged district, we haven’t had a chance to assess the benefits and drawbacks. WSESD has existed for about a year and a half, and it has been important in helping schools operate during the pandemic. There is great potential for shared resources under the umbrella of the district, but schools operating in isolation would lose that potential for collaboration.
• If a town leaves WSESD or if the district dissolves, the Brattleboro Union High School District #6 would not re-form, which could have damaging implications for our high school in the long run.
• There seems to be concern that if we don’t break up the merged structure now, we won’t be able to in the future, due to potential legislation that might take away the right to dissolve a merged board. According to our legislators, no current or pending legislation is aimed at this issue.
A yes vote on these articles would not reverse Act 46. It would create higher taxes for our towns and instability for our schools. Please vote no.