Letter: Communities need a voice on Act 46

To the editor:

The Banner has painted a clear and compelling view of the risks districts will face in the event the merged district vote is not held. Unfortunately, those arguments are exactly the ones the hired consultant has outlined in study committee meetings. Whether they accurately lay out the the alternate futures towns will face in a merged district is another matter.

Anyone making predictions on the future costs, quality and composition of the future school system based on the information provided by the study committee so far might be well-advised to think instead about what they really want from our school system. The proposed articles of agreement insure only one thing; that decisions for all the schools in our merged district, from Pownal to Shaftsbury, will be made by a single committee with roughly proportional representation from the current districts. The districts themselves will no longer exist. Consider questions like — where will your sixth grader attend school? If a community wants to pursue a more appropriate school program for their children, have influence over which teachers teach them, or consider program innovations, how will they do that through the single board?

Unfortunately, in two years of wrangling over these questions, few creative or attractive approaches have emerged. Thus, we are left with the state's favored solution. Whether we implement it by vote or have it imposed by the state, it will be the state's solution — the proposal the study committee submits is approved by the state board of education.

I hope every community considers carefully what their real choices are in this situation. Under the circumstances, it seems to me a decision by a board not to offer a community vote on the choices available is a legitimate decision.

— Bruce Lierman



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