Your 15 questions are fairly well thought out, though they mostly overlook the underlying cynicism of Act 46. It's still a money saving strategy. The emphasis of student=teacher and student-staff ratios by prominent legislators is pretty good evidence of that. You have correctly noted that, without protective language in the Articles, the Union Board can close schools (only after 4 years if its an Act 153/156 consolidation). In the Rutland South articles we provided that the Union board had to vote unanimously and the town had to vote in consent before a school could be closed. Our circumstance: two large elementaries, somewhat larger at one time; and two small ones. Money could be saved by sending all the children to two schools, and they have capacity for them. Bus rides would not be excessive (5 miles Tinmouth-Wallingford ES; 6 miles Shrewsbury Mountain School-Clarendon ES). So we, the small towns, got ourselves belt and suspenders, and we recommend that any town district in a similar position demand the same. One point that might have been included in the first or second question: what are your options? Many combinations won't work, unless and until the law is changed. A neighboring town has wasted a lot of time considering what virtues they would require in school districts they consolidated with. Under current law there aren't any nearby ones, and no contiguous ones - either to them or to each other. So they wasted a lot of time that might have been spent talking to every district in the area to see what could be worked out. They have choice, and want it so badly they are overlooking the critical issue of who is going to manage their schools? An existing SU structure that merges? A made-from-scratch RED or Act 46 merger, with no superintendent and no staff? Will anyone be willing to serve on the new Union School Board for the first couple of years? Think carefully! I'm the only one in Tinmouth willing to try, and I'm retired, and we are merging a fully operational SU into a RED.
Thanks for working on this. It's better than anything the School Boards Association has done.
Grant Reynolds Tinmouth School Board Chair
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!