ESSEX >> Gov. Peter Shumlin is praising three Vermont communities for being the first in the state to merge into a single school district under the terms of a new state law.

Shumlin was joined Tuesday in Essex by House Speaker and gubernatorial candidate Shap Smith, Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe and other state and local officials to talk about the education law known as Act 46.

Shumlin says last week's decision by voters in Essex, Essex Junction and Westford show the new law is working.

It's estimated the decision to merge five school boards with two superintendents into a single district with one superintendent will save $1 million over five years, mostly by consolidating central office administrations.

Act 46 is designed to streamline school governance and expand opportunity by consolidating districts.