Pownal Act 46 re-count confirms 'no' vote

POWNAL — A re-count of votes in Pownal on whether or not to merge five local school districts confirmed the results reported earlier this month.

The re-count was initiated after Pownal Assistant Town Clerk Julie Weber received a written request from a resident within the 10-day deadline following the vote, which failed by a thin margin, 210-214. On Monday evening, after the manual re-count was completed the number of votes exactly matched the initial count.

While voters in Bennington and Shaftsbury overwhelmingly approved a merger of the Bennington, Shaftsbury, Pownal, Woodford, and Mount Anthony Union school districts on Nov. 7, at least three of the four towns involved had to vote in favor to form the regional district. Woodford's vote also failed, 36-38. The merger was approved in total across the four communities, 1,533 to 766. Bennington voted 965 to 338 in favor and Shaftsbury voted 322 to 176 to approve the plan.

Rejection of the plan on Nov. 7 meant that the merger could not be approved through a re-vote before a Nov. 30 deadline set by the state in order to qualify for school tax reductions under the Act 46 process. Had the re-count reversed the result in either Pownal or Woodford, which recounted its votes last week, the merger would have been considered as being approved prior to the deadline. A re-vote could still occur in either town if warned by the school board or if petitioned by 5 percent of the registered voters of the town.

Without the plan for the merged district in place, districts must submit a report to the State Board of Education on how they can meet the goals of Act 46 with the current structures. Those reports are due by Dec. 26.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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