An open letter to all SVSU school districts
I have watched in dismay as the local elementary school boards slowly fracture. The latest round initiated by BSD's announcement that it intends to become a K-12 district perhaps taking over MAU. Reasonable people would know that's not feasible unless all member districts agree to undo the MAU agreement. It can't happen unilaterally. It is my hope that BSD does not waste taxpayer money in this way.
As a resident of Bennington for 43 years, a former BSD Board member, and Town Manager for the last 24 years, I ask that all local elementary school boards get back to the table and look at the unified union district model. MAU is a successful model based in this format. It has existed for 48 years. It is a high performing, successful school system. BSD, on the other hand, is not performing at the same level. I think individual BSD board members believe they are acting in the best interests of the taxpayer. While that is admirable, the chosen direction may not be in the best interest of the children.
I have come to believe that we must put aside our territorial bias. That includes not only Bennington, but also Pownal, Shaftsbury, Woodford and North Bennington. The children of the SVSU, all the children, deserve a better chance of success. A unified union district can provide that. I understand that North Bennington is a unique situation under current law. That must be addressed as well. However, a negotiated agreement can leave the numbers of board members and their representation the same. It can provide that no schools close without a vote of the people in that former district. My understanding is that the consolidation, in this manner, will comply with Act 46. If it were to happen by vote this year for implementation next year, the new district would see an incentive of a $0.20 reduction in its Education Tax Rate over the next four years.
Please, ladies and gentlemen, give us a chance at success. Give all our children a chance at success. The community will be better for it. The children will be better for it. Thank you.
— Stuart A. Hurd, Bennington town manager Bennington