This is a show about something that happened here in Vermont last winter. It was a terrible winter and toward the end we were all pretty fed up and tired and broke and everyone was worried about taxes because they’re too damn high. Right in the middle of all this came a piece of school legislation called Act 46. It was a school consolidation bill that promised to lower our taxes. Or that’s what they said in the beginning. Then some time passed and all of a sudden they were saying that the legislation was really about equal opportunity for all Vermont kids. The truth is, it wasn’t really clear how it would do either of these things, and it still isn’t. But anyway. It passed.
Today’s show is about how this legislation will change important aspects of our culture here in Vermont, and it’s about what schools mean in the lives of small towns.
Before Gov. Peter Shumlin gets carried away with the “success” of Act 46, he ought to take into account his own twisted standard of success.
He and House Speaker Shap Smith traveled to Essex Junction on Tuesday to celebrate the decision by residents of Essex, Essex Junction and Westford to merge into one large school district. Act 46, the school consolidation bill, was designed in part to encourage this sort of merger, which will create a district governed by one school board from districts that had been run by five.
It is not a new idea. For years residents of Essex and Essex Junction have been contemplating the division of power among multiple entities, including the town and village, as well as divided responsibility for numerous schools.
In fact, Essex is the sort of place made to order for consolidation. It has become a large suburbanized region and the second most populous municip...