Southern Vermont School Decision Could Have Ripple Effect

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(Host) A Town Meeting Day vote facing a small southern Vermont school district could trigger changes in a number of supervisory unions.

It could also lead to the formation of the state’s first Regional Education District.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) The Flood Brook Union School District educates students in kindergarten through eighth grade from four rural mountain towns.

Each of the towns, Londonderry, Weston, Landgrove and Peru, has its own school board and all are part of the Windsor Southwest Supervisory Union.

One of the choices that will come before voters in those towns is whether to dissolve their individual boards, AND the Flood Brook Union District.

(Friant) "Those would all consolidate into a single regional education district, which is called the RED."

(Keese) Flood Brook school board member Doug Friant is part of a local committee that’s behind the proposed changes.   

Flood Brook was among many school districts that took advantage of a state law that offered incentives to study consolidating into Regional Education Districts.

But the talks led to another proposed move that will also come before town meeting Tuesday. And that’s where this becomes a little complicated, because it would require changes to supervisory union districts.

Currently, the Flood Brook towns have no high school. So families get to choose a high school.

Friant says most Flood Brook students choose Burr and Burton Academy, an independent high school in Manchester.

(Friant) "Which is the high school that we’d like to align with. Whereas the district we’re in now, Windsor Southwest, operates Green Mountain Union High School."

(Keese) Most of the schools that send students to Burr and Burton belong to the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union.

Friant says it makes more sense for the Flood Brook towns to be part of that union, too.

(Friant) "One of the reasons for doing this is to make our curriculum development more cohesive. 

But there is an argument that because of the supervisory union we’re in now, because they operate a high school, that there would be an incentive for our school choice to be reduced. And that was very important to a number of members on our committee."

(Keese) The Flood Brook boards have already won approval from the state Board of Education to make the change, if voters approve.

But the change could also trigger changes in the supervisory union that Flood Brook is proposing to leave.

And it could also affect a third supervisory district, the Rutland-Windsor Supervisory Union, which is discussing dissolving to combine with the Windsor Southwest that Flood Brook proposes to leave.

Bruce Williams is the Rutland-Windsor superintendent.

(Williams) "Our role in this, meaning the RutlandWindsor Supervisory union has been to partner with Windsor Southwest in a study to determine whether we would like to create a new supervisory union."

(Keese) Williams says the move depends on whether the Flood Brook towns approve their proposed changes, and a few other contingencies as well.

Voters in Ludlow and Mount Holly schools in the Rutland-Windsor District, will take an advisory vote on that proposal at their town meetings.

For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese.

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