ARLINGTON -- An in-depth study of the effects of dissolving the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union is expected to take place in the fall, after the school board agreed earlier this month to pay $10,000 for outside consultants to do the work.
Ordered by state
The study will be done by Peter Mello and John Stempek, who did a smaller analysis determining potential governance options if BVSU is dissolved. The next part of the project, which was ordered by the State Board of Education two years ago, will consider the impacts of those options.
The consultants put in 10 days of work at a cost of $4,200 earlier in the year that determined five possible options they said needed in-depth examination. Three of those options, at this time, appear possible: the BVSU school districts of Arlington and Sandgate join Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union in Bennington; they join Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union in Sunderland; or they stay in BVSU.
The other two options the consultants identified are to form a consolidated regional educational district (RED), including Arlington, North Bennington, Shaftsbury, Sunderland and Sandgate that would join either BRSU or SVSU, or to form a RED with Arlington, Shaftsbury, Sunderland and Sandgate to join BRSU. The districts of Sandgate, Shaftsbury and North Bennington have expressed no interest in consolidating districts, and a previous study to form a RED with Arlington, Sandgate, North Bennington, Bennington, Shaftsbury, Pownal and Woodford was disbanded last month after every district other than Arlington voted the study was not worth completing.
The next study will closely analyze each option, including structures for delivering education, curriculum, costs, facilities, supervisory union services, tuition, transportation, and school choice options. A report must be completed and submitted to the State Board prior to its June 2013 meeting.
When the State Board first directed BVSU to do the study the school districts were told to chose between going north or south, but Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca has said staying put is an option if the study concludes the most beneficial structure is already in place. However, he has also given the opinion that there are significant benefits -- beyond cost savings -- in reducing the number of supervisory unions in the state. BVSU is the smallest of Vermont's 60-plus supervisory unions, having just two school districts -- one of which operates schools -- and fewer than 350 students.
Arlington Chairman Todd Wilkins said at a meeting earlier this month a decision to change supervisory unions should be left to the voters and he would fight a mandated change by the state.
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org