Voters in Elmore and Morristown will vote on a school district merger proposal on Nov. 3. If successful, the proposal would create one school district between the two neighboring towns. Some Elmore residents are concerned the merger would eliminate school choice as it currently exists in their town and could eventually lead to the closure of Vermont's last functioning one-room schoolhouse.
Both towns voted to study the merger at town meeting last March. A study committee with representatives from both town school districts drafted the proposal to form an Elmore-Morristown Unified Union School District.
If passed, the merger would save Elmore taxpayers an estimated 30 cents on their tax rate. The merger committee says Morristown taxpayers would at first see a one or two cent tax rate increase, but would benefit from long-term tax rate stability. This is because Elmore public school students would all attend Morristown's Peoples Academy, rather than having school choice in grades seven through 12.
Currently, Elmore sends its public school students to Morristown Elementary School for kindergarten. Elmore students then typically attend the one-room Elmore Lake School for grades one through three, depending on class sizes. After graduating from the Elmore Lake School, Elmore students go back to Morristown Elementary School and Peoples Academy Middle Level, at least until seventh grade when they have school choice.
The merger would guarantee the Elmore Lake School, the only one-room school house still in operation in Vermont, could remain open for Elmore students in first through third grades for at least four years. Elmore students would attend schools in Morristown for the remainder of their public school careers. After four years, the fate of the Elmore Lake School would be up to the unified union board.
The seven-member unified union board would include two dedicated directors from Elmore, two dedicated directors from Morristown and three directors at large from either town as elected by the combined voters in both towns. Directors will be elected on Nov. 3, in case the merger passes.
Public informational meetings on the proposed merger are scheduled for Oct. 27, at 6 p.m., at the Morristown Elementary School Library and Oct. 28, at 6 p.m., at the Elmore Town Hall. Absentee ballots are currently available at both the Elmore and Morristown town clerk's Offices.