"Too few people understand a really good sandwich."  - James Beard

User login

Who's online

There are currently 2 users and 47 guests online.

Online users

  • tomaidh
  • cgrotke

Welcome to iBrattleboro!

Welcome to iBrattleboro!
It's a local news source by and for the people of Brattleboro, Vermont, published continually. You can get involved in this experiment in citizen journalism by submitting meeting results, news, events, stories, reviews, how-to's, recipes, places to go, things to do, or anything else important to Brattleboro. Or, just drop by to see what others have contributed.

Find iBrattleboro on:

 Twitter YouTube

Search the Archives

Ye Olde iBrattleboro Archive

Use the pulldown to choose desired number of results.


Search the first decade
of iBrattleboro archives
at Archive-It.org
Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Your Vote On The Proposed Act 46 Merger Matters

On November 7 voters in Brattleboro, Putney, Dummerston and Guilford will vote on whether we should merge our town schools into a single school district overseen by a nine-member school board. This is a substantive vote that will decide the direction and structure of our schools for many years.  Your vote will count.

Some people will tell you that this mega-merger of four town school districts rolled into one is inevitable. That is a form of resignation. In fact, this vote represents a real choice between a single Pre-K to grade 12 (including the career center) centralized school district and the opportunity to enhance our current supervisory union to meet the goals of Act 46 - equity, transparency and sustainability - goals that are widely supported.  Act 46 spells out an alternative path to keeping a supervisory union such as WSESU - with its individual town boards. In order to pursue this alternative path we must vote down the merger proposal. School board and community members are already working on this alternative path.

Our current supervisory union has served us well for many years. It can be enhanced in order to meet the goals of Act 46.  This is not about fear of change. It is about the best way forward for our children and our communities.  The merger proposal has actually pushed one town out of our supervisory union and has made people in the towns adjacent to Brattleboro nervous about the future of their schools.  The promised tax savings that are continually touted by the merger study committee have been discounted by the Vermont secretary of education, Rebecca Holcomb.

Our local school boards keep our communities involved in the education of our children.  Individual school boards are close to the schools and children they serve. They are responsive to changing needs and are are able to innovate when needed.  Our local schools boards can work together to insure equitable learning opportunities - they are already doing this!  None of these enhanced forms of collaboration require a merger.

If you would like to see a very thoughtful discussion of the alternative to the mega-merger you can watch state representative Mike Mrowicki’s program on BCTV, “The Montpelier Connection.”  Follow this link. And remember to vote on or before November 7. Ballots and voting are available now at your town clerk’s office.


Andy Davis
Brattleboro, VT


Comments | 10

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Voting against the merger

I'm having trouble finding anyone in favor of merging into a larger district, and far more people offering good reasons to vote no.

I feel sorry so many people spent so much time on this diversion (there were a lot of meetings!) but a merger like this really demands compelling arguments - and we haven't heard them. This isn't coming about because of a groundswell of local demand to merge and grow larger.


H. Brooke Paige filed a lawsuit against Act 46

H. Brooke Paige filed a lawsuit against Act 46.

His telephone number is 1-802-883-2320.
His wife's name is Donna.
H. Brooke Paige has run for Governor of Vermont
in the Democratic Primary in the past and
also for Attorney General in the Democratic Primary.
He will run for office in the Democratic Primary
in 2018.

H. Brooke Paige is a perennial political candidate,
so he is friendly and used to people calling him.

Here's some news on his lawsuit against Act 46.
"Act 46 designed to enhance education monopoly, limit school choice — a debate for Vermont"...
..."I’ve not been able to find out where the
Institute for Justice lawsuit stands,
and recall that it may have been dropped on a technicality. However,
Vermont businessman H. Brooke Paige
recently initiated a similar lawsuit
that should be closely followed."...
... "Act 46 consolidation is designed to enhance the education monopoly’s control of all Vermont education spending on behalf of the special interest groups that have a stranglehold on the state’s legislature, administration and political appointees."...
..."Jay Eshelman is a former school board director and business owner living in Vermont.

Lawsuit: Act 46 'unconstitutional' Times Argus
"The suit, filed by H. Brooke Paige in Orange County civil court this week, lists the state, Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, the Board of Education and" ...

Edition 2017-09-30 - The Times Argus
CHELSEA — "A Washington man is suing the state and his local School Board,
claiming Act 46 is unconstitutional. The suit, filed by H. Brooke Paige in Orange County" ...

Vermont man making a last stand for local control of schools ...
H. Brooke Paige: “How can Act 46, a law that threatens, intimidates, coerces,
demands and bribes the good citizens of Vermont, be right, let alone legal?”.

2017 October 03 - Rutland Herald
"The suit, filed by H. Brooke Paige in Orange County civil court this week, lists the
state, Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, the Board of Education and" ...


First vote NO and defeat the merger

I also have serious questions about the way that Act 46 has skewed the democratic process that we regard so highly in Vermont. However, our immediate concern here in Windham County is to defeat the present merger proposal.

I understand that there are about nine supervisory unions around the state looking to achieve the goals of Act 46 (equity, transparency and sustainability) by enhancing their current supervisory union structures.

This is, in fact, a legal option under the law.

I wish Mr. Paige the best in seeking his day in court to challenge the core of the law - and the way it is being pushed.

Here in WSESU the Act 46 study committee spokespeople are saying that the vote doesn't matter because the VT-Department of Education will force the merger upon us. Not sure how that fits into the overall theory of democracy as practiced in Vermont heretofore! In fact, the Act 46 law contains options for governance. These will become the focus if - and after - the merger is defeated on November 7. You can vote now at your town clerk's office.



"Here in WSESU the Act 46 study committee spokespeople are saying that the vote doesn't matter because the VT-Department of Education will force the merger upon us."

That would also imply the Committee didn't matter.... : )

We just got a plain postcard in the bulk mail telling us the merger is a great idea. They say we should vote yes because:

- each school isn't already identical (inequities exist!)
- it's a buffer against declining enrollment, somehow....
- we can cut staff (we can collaborate more!)
- an increase in volunteers will keep schools "local"
- all students get all programs, and families can move around and stay at the same school, or choose other schools
- the Study Committee worked hard on this.
- It complies with Act 46. And Act 49 - whatever that may be. (This is the first mention of it I've seen).

Nothing about any of the candidates or new positions on the postcard.

What's barely mentioned is improved education. How is this a better educational system? Any evidence that kids will learn more and be smarter/better off for this?


How would this increase the

How would this increase the total number of school volunteers and how would that enhance the "local' aspect? There seem to be a finite number of parents and grandparents who volunteer in the schools that their children/ grandchildren attend. It's never a large number for a variety of reasons- most of which will not be changed if this passes. I volunteer for Academy School because my grandson goes there. The things I work on help to pay for field trips for the students. When he attended a previous school I volunteered there as well. But, it's unlikely that I would volunteer at a school that he was not a student at because I want to be able to help his school be able to offer more to the students. I'm not sure how the number of volunteers would change or what is even meant by making the schools more "local"? From a purely personal standpoint I don't see anything good coming from this merger for anyone.


The postcard says

The card tells us:

""Local Leadership" With the addition of meaningful individual Leadership Councils, the number of volunteers engaged in our schools will almost double. They will work to maintain local identity and local school and community culture."



That all sounds like a bunch of words that have no actual meaning. I'd like to know first what the definition is of " meaningful individual leadership" and how does that leadership translate into a doubling of school volunteers? It's all well and good to sprout a bunch of phrases to try to convince people this is a good thing but if you can't actually explain how it will work then it's just doublespeak. Public schools have a severe shortage of volunteers. In most schools - not just here but across the country- it is generally a very small core group of volunteers that do all the work; end up getting burned out after a few years and either new blood comes forward or the school suffers from lack of fundraising and extra activities. When you then talk about schools that have a very high rate of families that are living at or below the poverty level -like Brattleboro has- then the numbers of volunteers drops significantly. Independent schools - in comparison- have much higher rates of volunteering. Some of that comes from the schools requiring families to put in a certain amount of volunteer hours per school year and some of it is because families that can afford to send their kids to independent schools often aren't dealing with the same daily struggles that lower income families are and have the time and ability to volunteer in their c hild's school.
Show us some proof that our schools will be better off with some actual facts and not just wishful thinking. Otherwisw, admit this merger is not a good thing.


words, ideas and evidence

I agree with what you are saying. The 'leadership councils' are offered in the merger as replacements for school boards. These councils are advisory only. The actual binding decisions will be made by a nine member centralized board. This board would have - if enacted - 4 members voted by Brattleboro, 1 member each from Guilford, Dummerston and Putney - and two 'at large' members voted on by all four towns.

The study committee has offered no evidence of where this system actually works. Will the essentially powerless councils atrophy over time? Will the centralized board actually respect ideas from the councils if they run counter to its master plan?

There is something to be said for diversity of membership on local boards - boards that have actual decision-making authority. Some have called Act 46 the "superintendent relief act of 2015" because it simplifies the job of the superintendent in not having to attend so many individual board meetings. Making life for the school administrators easier seems more like an adult issue than an child issue or a learning issue.

Yes, show some proof. There is buyers remorse in other states who have gone before us with school consolidation. Those experiences should be part of the discussion. WE DO NOT NEED TO MERGE. MAKE USE OF THE COMPLETE ACT 46 LEGISLATION TO ACHIEVE POSITIVE OUTCOMES WHILE RETAINING THE CHECKS AND BALANCES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE. First step is vote NO on November 7.


Philly returning to local accountability

In Philly, news today of the mayor taking back city schools from a state system. Local control again!

"In an address to City Council planned for Thursday morning, the mayor will outline the end of the state-dominated School Reform Commission and a path to local control of the Philadelphia School District by July 1, administration officials confirmed Wednesday night. He will also pledge to have the city cover much of the $1 billion deficit the school system is projecting over five years." - from philly.com


Another attempt to clarify my views on Act 46 merger

I composed the following response to a friend on Facebook and am reposting it here.

I have followed this issue for well over a year and have already voted NO on the merger. I totally get the confusion on the part of those who are trying to quickly prepare for the vote. I will try to be succinct with these bullet points:

1) I think more centralized management of education runs counter to innovation,

2) Act 46 specifically allows other forms of governance than a merger. The study committee that prepared the merger did not - in my opinion - fairly consider this. It is possible to achieve the goals of Act 46 without giving up local school boards. In fact, our current WSESU is already doing many of the things that Act 46 suggests. We can do more. At this point 60 towns in Vermont are working toward non-merger forms of compliance with Act 46,

3) Many of the promises being made about financial savings are not well supported,

4) A nine person board trying to oversee the entire PK-12 (and Career Center) public educational system in four towns seems like a recipe for more control by administration and not the citizenry. The 'leadership councils' being touted as replacements for accountable school boards are advisory only, and

5) I have contributed more than half of my lifetime to teaching in and observing our public schools. I believe that school improvement is achieved through leadership, communication and commitment. The Act 46 merger promotes the idea that we can improve education with a change in management structure. If the merger is voted down we can pursue an Act 46 alternative structure (under the law) that allows for less centralization, innovation, involvement and collaboration. Thanks for listening. Look forward to any and all responses.


iBrattleboro Poll

The amount of confidence I have in local (not national, not state) media to get the facts right...