Letter: Hurd urges 'yes' vote on merger

I am writing to ask all voters in Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford to vote favorably on the proposed merger outlined by the Act 46 Committee: the proposed Mt. Anthony Unified School District.

Proposed as a governance merger, it reflects the local preference that a State-imposed merger may not. It provides for representation similar to the current MAU Board model, a 50 year success story. It maintains local control insuring that the new Board will be composed of local folks from our communities sitting in a proportional balance that preserves a close relationship among those who are selected by the voters and the voters who elect them, you and me.

It provides extra protection against closing local schools. It provides a five year period wherein no local school can be closed and adds a provision that only a supermajority vote of the new school board can close a school after that five year period. This vote can be taken only after a series of public hearings.

If we are successful, each community will benefit by tax incentives over the next four years. In the first year, Bennington's estimated school tax rate will decrease $0.07; Pownal's estimated school tax rate will decrease by $0.16; Shaftsbury's estimated school tax rate will decrease by $0.08 tax rate; however, Woodford's estimated school tax rate will increase by $0. 05. Without the incentives, Woodford's school tax rate will increase $0.13. The savings are substantial, but not the real reason for this merger.

The real reason for this merger is that it will bring all our children into one school district, allow for school choice within that district, allow for teacher movements within the district to meet identified needs when they arise, provide a true Pre K-12 school system, and continue to provide local schools governed by a local school board whose representatives are elected by all of us.


Stuart A. Hurd                         

Town Manager



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