The Agency of Education has released a draft version of the articles of agreement that will be used by school districts that are forced to merge under Act 46.
A proposal released by the Agency of Education in early June recommended that 18 new districts be formed from among those districts that did not voluntarily merge, and the articles of agreement will be used to govern the new districts.
The articles say that the full electorate within a newly merged district can vote to close a school, but the Agency of Education is recommending that voters should have the option to be able to change that provision.
The State Board of Education will consider the draft articles and include the final version in its statewide plan which is due before Nov. 30. That’s also the deadline for the board to decide which districts will ultimately be forced to merge.
Under provisions included in the draft articles of agreement, the Secretary of Education will warn and convene an organizational meeting for the newly merged district within 60 days of the State Board’s final decision. A transitional board will be sworn in at that meeting, and then the new board will have to hold its first meeting within 14 days.
Throughout the draft version of the articles of agreement, which were released this week, there are articles that can only be amended by the voters or by the school board. There are also articles that cannot be amended by the school board or voters.
The Agency of Education is recommending that the articles of agreement be finalized by voters at town meeting in March, and the newly merged district must be operational by July 1, 2019.
The State Board of Education has been holding special meetings around the state to hear from school district members who oppose the proposed forced mergers.
Meetings have already been held in Newark and Montpelier, and the final meeting is scheduled for districts in the southern part of the state on Sept. 19 in Chester.