The tiny southern Vermont town of Stamford rejected its Act 46 merger plan Wednesday, and the town will now look into an interstate school district with nearby Clarksburg, Massachusetts.
Stamford voted on a consolidation plan that would have merged its school district with Halifax and Readsboro.
Halifax and Readsboro approved the consolidation plan, and those two towns will now move ahead without Stamford.
Stamford voted 173 to 6 against merging with the nearby Vermont towns.
Prior to the vote, the town of Clarksburg, Massachusetts, reached out to Stamford to talk about forming a joint interstate school district; following Wednesday's vote, those talks will resume.
Clarksburg town administrator Carl McKinney says the joint district could benefit both towns.
"I think that this is a stepping stone for further cooperation," McKinney says. "Obviously we're in a tough economy in this neck of the woods, and I think it's better to cooperate. And if that cooperation has to go across state lines, so be it."
Halifax and Readsboro are both more than 10 miles away down winding roads, while Clarksburg is a short 4 miles south.
The two towns are tightly linked, McKinney said, with a large number of Stamford residents making the drive into western Massachusetts every day for work.
Stamford also has high school choice, and some of its students go to high school in Clarksburg.
McKinney says the town is working to get a $25,000 Massachusetts state grant to help move the plan forward.
Vermont operates two interstate school districts with New Hampshire, but if the plan with Clarksburg moves forward it would be the first joint school district with Massachusetts.
The plan would have to be approved by both states, and by the U.S. Congress.