Consequences of school merger in Dummerston, Brattleboro

DUMMERSTON — As a Dummerston resident and a payer of property taxes in Brattleboro, I am concerned about the impact that the merger of the town school district will have on my Brattleboro taxes and on the town of Dummerston school district.

Brattleboro currently has the lowest education property tax rate in the area. If merged, Brattleboro's taxes will increase because Brattleboro will have to pick up the proportional share of costs to:

• Expand educational offerings in surrounding towns.

• Assume a share of the indebtedness incurred by the surrounding towns. (Putney has over $1.2 million in debt.)

• Assume a share of the cost of correcting the deferred maintenance in surrounding towns.

• Increase in the cost of administration. The prior superintendent stated that if a merger occurs, the district would need to get a “facilities manager.” It is estimated that alone would increase the cost of central administration by over $100,000 for salary and benefits. That does not count any additional personnel that would invariably be added to central administration.

As a Dummerston resident, I am concerned about:

• The possible elimination of our grades 7 and 8 without any input from the town.

• The relocation of our excellent teachers to other schools and the impact on our students.

• School closure. After five years, our school could be closed without a vote of the town. Look what happened to the Windham Solid Waste Management District.

• The loss of financial control over the school.

• Losing one half of our Town Meeting, which would no longer have a school portion.

These are just some of the reasons I will be voting no on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and I urge my fellow community members to do the same.

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