Controversy over Vt. School Consolidation

Published 12/17 2013 06:33PM

Updated 12/17 2013 06:52PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Vermont State Board of Education is looking at breaking up a supervisory union in Central Vermont.

At a meeting in Burlington Tuesday, people told the board what they thought of a plan to break up the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union.

"This is about people. This is about engagement. If we are given the task, we will do it," says David Bickford, superintendent of Orange Windsor Supervisory Union.

Windsor Northwest's superintedent will retire soon and there are low student numbers. That's part of why the state came up with a plan.

The towns of Bethel, Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Pittsfield, and Stockbrige would be split among three neighboring supervisory unions.

"We agree that our neighbors are in a problematic situation as you are in trying to find a solution. We would like to be part, I certainly as our superintendent would like to be part of that solution, but not at the expense of my six towns," says Brigid Scheffert, Washington West Supervisory Union Superintendent.

Scheffert and others say the plan has big problems. They don't think the projected cost savings will happen.

"No one wants change and change is hard," says Rebecca Holcombe, incoming Vermont Secretary of Education.

Holcombe says this is not just about saving money, it's making sure schools can still offer everything students need. That's why she wants everyone to keep talking about the mergers.

"I think the challenge in these issues is there has to be something in it for everybody," says Holcombe.

On Tuesday, the board voted to give all the supervisory unions more time to talk about the plan and offer their owns ideas.

They are to report back to the board in June.

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