Act 46

Need a brief refresher on Act 46?

Friday's report is just the latest development in this school district consolidation process, which kicked off when then-Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Act 46 in June 2015. The law was supposed to “encourage and support local decisions and actions” around school district mergers. 

Read Act 46 as enacted here.

Back at that time, independent school boards — which generally came from single towns — oversaw their local schools. Under the new law, the preferred model was a single board, made up of representatives from a number of nearby towns, that governed all of the schools in the newly consolidated district.

Act 46 was rolled out in phases. School districts that voluntarily merged during the first two phases received financial incentives.

A row of classroom desks
mygueart / iStock

The State Board of Education has laid out its ground rules for a series of meetings that will give school districts a chance to push back against the education secretary’s proposed Act 46 state plan.

Chaunce Benedict, from Swanton, attended the State Board of Education meeting in Barre. Benedict is a former superintendent and says small schools should not lose their annual grant payments.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The State Board of Education is bumping up against a June 30 deadline for addressing proposed changes to Vermont’s small school grant program.

Desks in a line in an empty classroom. Up close of one with books in it.
GlobalStock / iStock

The Vermont State Board of Education has released a schedule for its three regional meetings to collect local testimony on the statewide Act 46 merger plan that was recently released by the Agency of Education.

Exterior of Wolcott Elementary School on an overcast day.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A nearly 200-page report was released by the Vermont Agency of Education on Friday, and school districts around Vermont are going through the state's school consolidation recommendations.

Kristina Naylor, of Dummerston, talks with Brattleboro school board member David Scholaes at an Act 46 Alternative Governance Structure meeting last year.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

On Friday, the Vermont Agency of Education will release a proposed statewide merger plan.

School boards that have not yet merged under Act 46 — and are instead seeking approval for their "alternative governance structure" plans — will be watching closely to see if their proposals were accepted.

The exterior of the Stamford school with blue sky and mountains in the background.
Micah Hayre, Courtesy

A plan to create the first interstate school district between Vermont and Massachusetts got a step closer after the town of Clarksburg, Massachusetts, voted to spend $25,000 on a feasibility study.

First and second grade students line up to wash their hands at Marlboro Elementary School.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Lawmakers want to change how the state’s small school grants are administered, and some of Vermont’s smallest schools say it would be tough to remain open if the annual payments were taken away.

Facing a $58 million funding gap, Vermont lawmakers and the governor have competing proposals to pay for Vermont's schools in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Miatagirl / iStock

Legislative leaders say they will stick to the schedule for continuing the Act 46 school district consolidation process.

A screenshot of the Agency of Education's Merger Activity map. See the latest merger map here: https://bit.ly/2pMFZ3E
Screenshot, Vermont Agency of Education

Rebecca Holcombe’s announcement Tuesday that she’ll be stepping down as Vermont’s Secretary of Education comes at a critical time in the Act 46 school district consolidation process.

Black River High School Middle School with a snowy lawn and a sign out front that says Our School, Our Community.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Black River High School students, from Ludlow and Mount Holly, have been studying together at Black River since middle school. But unless a vote held in November is reversed, their school could be closing before some of these students graduate.

The Cabot School Board unanimously approved filing an Alternative Governance Structure proposal with the Vermont Agency of Education to maintain its pre-K through 12 school.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

School Directors in Cabot are asking the state to approve a plan that would keep the town’s high school open and market the school to out-of-state students.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A new Joint Fiscal Office study found that the state will spend almost $31 million for school districts that merged under Act 46.

Kristina Naylor, of Dummerston, talks with Brattleboro school board member David Scholaes at an Act 46 Alternative Governance Structure meeting last year.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont's school district consolidation law was never supposed to work in every single community.

Voters have rejected two of the three Act 46 school district consolidation plans up for consideration Tuesday.

Putney Central School students make their way down into the school forest. Putney residents will vote on turning the forest over to the town before an Act 46 merger vote.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

In some Vermont school districts, the issues of assets and debt are complicating their Act 46 merger plans. In Putney, voters will weigh in on what to do with the Putney Central School Forest about a week before the district's Act 46 vote.

Voters in Cabot gathered for a community forum held by the school board on Thursday, Oct. 5. The board is considering its next move in an attempt to comply with Act 46. The fate of the local high school hangs in the balance.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

After years of declining enrollment, the Cabot School Board is considering closing its 55-student high school. But some residents believe they have a viable plan to keep it open.

Members of the Windham Souitheast Supervisory Union Act 46 Committee goes over a presentation for the district's voters at a recent meeting.
Howard Weisss-Tisman / VPR

At the end of the last Legislative session lawmakers extended the deadlines for Act 46, the state's school district consolidation law. As the new Nov. 30 deadline approaches, districts are now finishing up their work and preparing for a new round of votes on the merger plans.

The town of Vernon voted Tuesday to leave the Brattleboro Union High School district.

The Cabot School Board unanimously approved filing an Alternative Governance Structure proposal with the Vermont Agency of Education to maintain its pre-K through 12 school.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

On Tuesday, the towns of Cabot, Danville, Marshfield and Plainfield will vote on merging into one school district under Act 46. If all four towns vote "yes," it will be the beginning of the end for Cabot High School.

On Tuesday, Royalton will vote for a second time on whether to merge with Bethel and Rochester school districts to form the White River Unified School District.

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