Windham Southeast Schools Work To Meet Act 46 Deadline

Jan 8, 2016

The towns in the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union will not be voting on school district mergers at town meeting.

But a vote might still be held before a July 1 deadline that gives the towns tax breaks under Act 46, the state's school district consolidation law.

Representatives from Brattleboro, Dummerston, Putney, Guilford and Vernon met Thursday to talk about a proposed merger.

The committee had to have its plan done this week in order to have a proposal in place before town meeting. But more work is needed, Act 46 study committee Chairwoman Alice Laughlin said.

Laughlin said the committee still hopes to hold special town meetings in the five towns before July 1 to take advantage of the tax savings offered under the Act 46 accelerated merger plan.

"So the accelerated merger has five years of incentives; 10 cents, eight and so on," Laughlin said. "The 10-cent year which the accelerated merger option offers us is about a million less in taxes spread across the various towns. That's a pretty real number."

About a dozen people attended the meeting, with most of them voicing opposition to the proposed merger.

The committee needed to submit its plan to the State Board of Education this week in order to hold a Town Meeting Day vote, but complicated discussions about school choice, closing schools and the specific language in the proposed merger plan bogged the committee down for three hours.

The State Board of Education is meeting on Jan. 19 where a number of other school district merger plans will be submitted for approval.