Committee seeking input from the public on Act 46 options

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NORTH BENNINGTON — The ad hoc committee formed by the North Bennington Prudential Committee to study Act 46 will hold meetings in the coming months to gauge community interest in different paths the district could take.

"We're starting a series of informational meetings within the community," said Bruce Lierman, a former school board member who is the head of that committee, "Posters have been put up. The first one is going to be next Monday, just at the back table in Powers. They're informational meetings to try and draw in the community and to educate them more about what some of the factors in considering our response to Act 46 are."

Lierman said the meetings would be formatted as one-hour discussions, and the plan is to have two every week, one held during the day and one held during the evening, to allow people with differing schedules to be able to participate. "While we're starting at Powers, and the train station, our plan is to expand into other districts as well," he said, "I talked to (Shaftsbury School Board member) Jeff Leake last night, he's quite supportive of the effort, just as a way to try and get more community involvement and understanding at an early stage, because we may have to move fairly quickly this fall in coming to a decision, and we need to lay the groundwork for the decisions that we'll have to make then."

Lierman also updated the board on the progress the committee has made in studying the law and North Bennington's paths forward. "It appears that this district, or all of the districts (of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union) could make a decision on forming a Modified Unified Union District, that would essentially dissolve the current district and fold others into the new district, if there was a majority vote for the districts to do that," he said, "That might be a path for us to seek our goal of having a K-12 tuitioning district, without going through as many voting cycles as we earlier anticipated. It looks like this could be done in one vote."

Lierman said he would bring that idea up to the SVSU's Act 46 study committee when it meets next week. Lierman serves as the community representative from North Bennington on that board. Matthew Patterson represents the Prudential Committee, which will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Southwestern Vermont Career Development Center.

"It seems that this is probably the only really viable option for us to seek what we want through the existing SU study committee," he said, "It's either finding something related to the development of a modified union district or we probably can't achieve the goals for our district through the study committee. It's time for us to see if we can get a discussion going about that and how it might work for all the districts."

The North Bennington Prudential Committee meets the second Wednesday of every month in the library at the Village School of North Bennington. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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