Two Act 46 Plans Approved On Election Day, One Rejected

Nov 9, 2016

Voters in the Addison Northeast and Grand Isle supervisory unions approved Act 46 plans on Tuesday. In Barre, a merger plan was rejected.

Vermont's school district consolidation law says the voters in each district have to approve their merger proposals.

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The vote among the Grand Isle towns highlights the complexity and subtleties of Act 46. There are five towns in the district. Three voted in favor of the merger, and one voted against; one district didn't even hold a vote on the merger plan.

Grand Isle, North Hero and Isle La Motte approved the merger plan, but South Hero rejected it by an almost two-to-one margin. Alburgh didn't vote on the Act 46 plan.

So Grand Isle Act 46 committee chairman Andrew Julow says the three towns that approved the plan will begin merging their school districts.

"I consider it a success with the three towns," Julow says. "I'm just real happy we were able to put three together. If the other two towns want to come in in the future, that would be great. The door is open to them. But we're excited to have the three joined as one."

In Addison Northeast, all five towns agreed to form a single school district that's governed by one board.

Voters in New Haven, Lincoln, Starksboro, Monkton and Bristol all approved the school district consolidation plan.

"I am pleased that voters in our five-town community agree with the Act 46 study committee that school district unification presents many benefits for students and taxpayers," says Addison Northeast Act 46 study committee chairwoman Jen Stanley. "As we go forward, it will be important for the new unified board to engage people from different perspectives and ensure many voices are heard as we form our new unified district."

But in Barre, a proposal to unify the schools in Barre City and Barre Town was voted down.

The comparatively simple Act 46 plan, which included only two districts, needed both to say "yes."

In Barre City, the larger district, about 75 percent of the voters said they wanted to merge. But in the smaller Barre Town district, the plan was defeated, 56 percent to 44 percent.

School districts have until June 30, 2017 to have their district consolidation plans approved to qualify for the tax breaks offered in the law's second phase.