Letter: Nelson Brownell: I'll be voting 'no'
That is the ballot question being asked even though if one gets the pages of papers that require the decision to vote yes or no at the polls or by absentee ballot were to try and read through the many things being talked about, it is hard to tell.
While it is clear that this will do away with all the current boards (MAU, elementary and SVSU), it is unclear on how this merger will impact the education of our students by having this single new modified union board oversee all our districts.
There are several concerns that have not been made clear to me on why this would be a better way to go then wait and see if the state would merge us.
1. Question on being forced or staying as we are seem to get mixed answers from members of the Act 46 committee and the state.
If it is true that we will be merged anyway why not wait and see if it is not just the elementary schools being merged not the doing away with all current boards and creating one super board approach being offered.
2. It's clear little has been said about improving the education of our children with this change, but a lot has been said about change in who controls your children's future. You keep getting "details-will-come-later" answers on questions about education versus merger or "here is what we believe can happen."
3. Yes, there is short-term money savings, but they only go away with ever-increasing cost to the taxpayers over the same time. Even some members of the ACT 46 board says not to vote for this for the money.
4. It is true that the current local board would remain part of the SVSU even if it votes no. The answer to the question on us voting for other elementary decisions at the new unified board if created would be: We are not allowed. We would however have to go our own way on local elementary issues, which could mean things stay the same for us at the elementary level. Note North Bennington elementary stands alone today and will in the future.
5. This issue has gone by several Act 46 committees without any of the others recommending this type of take over control change. Why now the rush other than to take total control away from the several local boards to create one super board that will control and own your school property and resources now owned by the local community?
6. This board would control all voting decisions, unlike what is provided today (MAU) by local votes per individual towns which in some cases could turn down district wide budgets that impacted them more than other towns.
I cannot support this approach because it lacks in detail on showing how it would improve education for our children. Instead it only shows how to take total control and to minimize local involvement.
I will be voting no on this merger.
The author is the chairman of the Pownal Select Board.
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