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.

Two Townshend Elementary School students sit at a table.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

State government almost shut down earlier this year, and the fight was largely over education funding.

And all of those debates in Montpelier, and negotiations over taxes and education costs? They’re all rooted in the decisions that local school boards make around this time of year.

Christine Hallquist, the Democratic candidate for governor, outlines parts of her education platform in Burlington on Wednesday, stading behind a Christine for Vermont sign outside.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist outlined some aspects of her education platform on Wednesday in Burlington, saying she supports a change in how public schools are funded.

A meeting with Vermont Agency of Education staff facing State Board of Education members in Bethel.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

After an all-day meeting Tuesday in Bethel, the State Board of Education has adopted a set of guidelines to help steer its decisions about which school districts will be forced to merge under Act 46.

A group of people gather around a table in a dark room.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

After a series of meetings to hear testimony from Vermonters, the final decisions about forcing mergers on school districts throughout the state now lie with the State Board of Education.

The exterior of the brick  Chester-Andover Elementary School.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Things got off to a rocky start this year for Chester-Andover Elementary School, after a water main leak flooded the building just before school opened. Now about 240 displaced elementary students are spending their days learning at the local high school.

The exterior of Townshend Elementary School on a blue-sky day.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont’s public education system is at a crossroads — and school districts across the state are trying to determine a way forward in order to provide a 21st-century education to students in a rural state with declining enrollment. 

A row of classroom desks
mygueart / iStock

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 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.

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