Actively seeking solutions for towns and school districts under Act 46

BRATTLEBORO — Paul Normandeau wrote about my testimony to the House Education Committee. He was not in Montpelier, and I was surprised by two false statements he asserts that I made:

1. He wrote that I “testified [...] without authorization or any direction from her local school board.” Although never asked by the representatives, I stated emphatically that I did not give testimony as a representative of the Brattleboro Town School Board, much less speak in my capacity as chair.

In fact, I emphasized often that our board is not of one voice on most issues around Act 46. On the same day, the committee received written testimony from fellow Brattleboro Town School Board member David Schoales and Dummerston School Board member Jody Normandeau.

2. He wrote that I “suggested that Dummerston School students were ill prepared when they entered BUHS.” I actually said the opposite. I noted exactly what Paul states: that “Dummerston students are among the top-ranking students in the state.”

Paul also derides my advocating for Vernon to be assigned to a different supervisory union. I ask for that consideration to be fair to the four merging towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney.

Under the merger, we four towns make one merged district, with one merged board. Because Vernon has school choice, they remain a different district, with their own school board.

These two districts then make up one supervisory union board. Under current law, this board would have three representatives from each district. That would be three total, from the four merged towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney combined - and three from Vernon alone.

Besides the inequity of supervisory union board representation, the supervisory union structure decreases the administrative efficiencies gained from the merger. It is not as cost effective.

However, I am actively seeking solutions under the law. Most importantly, I want an equitable education for all the kids. Also, I want fair board representation and increased efficiencies for all taxpayers. I want our supervisory union to work with Vernon, and other sending towns, to have a voice.

The headline for the letter in the version published in the Brattleboro Reformer was “Promote cooperation, not dissension in merger plans.” That's an ideal I continue to work toward.

I appreciate the interest that Paul has taken in the Act 46 legislation. Every question he has raised has made me look harder at how to make this merger work best for the taxpayers, and for the students.

Our kids know each other as friends and teammates; I look to their example as we continue to all navigate the merger process.

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