Voters in Waterville went to the polls for the third time in a year on Tuesday to vote on an Act 46 school district merger. This time the question passed 113-35, meaning Waterville will be part of the Lamoille North Modified Unified Union when it officially forms July 1.
Waterville voters initially rejected the merger proposal last April. But after the school district learned it would lose the Belvidere students that currently attend Waterville Elementary School, some townspeople petitioned for another vote. The questioned passed by a large margin in February, however another petition was submitted to the town calling for a re-vote.
Town Clerk Nancy LaRose says 25 percent of Waterville's eligible voters cast ballots this time around. That's significantly more than the number of votes cast last April, but less than the number of people that voted in February.
Because Belvidere voted to join the merged district last year, if Waterville did not join in the merger it would have had to operate its elementary school without the Belvidere students. Those students would instead have attended another elementary school within the Lamoille North Modified Unified Union.
Waterville Elementary School Principal Kate Torrey says that would have meant big changes for her school. There would have been a 30 percent budget cut, equating to staff cuts and a switch from a full-time to a part-time school principal. Now, she says, both Waterville and Belvidere students will be able to remain at Waterville Elementary School for at least three years.
Those are the same terms afforded to all the elementary schools within the Lamoille North Modified Unified Union. That includes elementary schools in Eden, Hyde Park, Johnson and Waterville. Lamoille Union High School and Middle School are also part of the district. Cambridge is the only town in the existing Lamoille North Supervisory Union that voted not to join the merged district.