Four of six towns in WCSU pass Act 46 school board unification
By Polly Lynn Mikula
On Tuesday, March 7, six towns in the Windsor Central Supervisory Union voted on the proposed Act 46 school district merger. Killington,Woodstock, Bridgewater and Pomfret passed the measure to form a union school district, while Barnard, Reading, defeated it.
Plymouth, which was lies outside Windsor Central, voted to join the district.
Here’d how the votes broke down:
Killington: 233 yes, 88 no
Woodstock: 444 yes, 155 no
Bridgewater: 98 yes, 37 no
Pomfret: 125 yes, 16 no
Reading: 64 yes, 135 no
Barnard: 103 yes, 155 no
Each of the six towns was listed as an advisable districts for the establishment of the new Unified District. However, since two towns voted the measure down a Modified Unified District will be established. A Unified District required all six towns to vote “yes;” a Modified Union District required at least four to vote “yes.”
The existing school boards in Killington,Woodstock, Bridgewater and Pomfret will be dissolved and replaced by a single board made up of six representatives from Woodstock and two representatives from each of the other towns.
School Board Chairwoman Jennifer Iannantuoni, from Killington, said revotes could be held this spring in the towns that voted down the unified district. If the towns do not vote to join the district, they will face penalties from the state with “phantom students” and small school grants to be revoked, according to the Act 46 timeline. The state is also likely to force them to join a district in the not too distant future.
Iannantuoni spoke Monday night at the annual school district meeting at Killington Elementary School, March 6, in favor of forming a new unified school district. While she admitted that she was originally wary of the idea, she now feels the merged union board is the best path forward. “I went into this process extremely hesitant,” she said. But after attending 54 meetings over the last 18 months, she has come to believe that joining the unified district will indeed be best for Killington students. Since a significant changes or a repeal of Act 46 does not seem likely, “I would rather be at the start of the process, so Killington has a strong voice,” she explained.
Iannantuoni and fellow school board member Jim Haff (both re-elected to represent Killington) said that their time on the Woodstock Union High School and Middle School Board has given them confidence in union boards. “People who dedicate the time involved in this really want what’s best for children,” Iannantuoni said.
Part of the board merger proposal is to include school choice within the district. This, Iannantuoni believes, would likely bring more students to KES, which as a capacity of 135 and currently has 93 students enrolled K-6 (with another 16 in the pre-school.)
School budgets passed
In other election-related school news, Killington voters approved the $1,713,927 elementary school budget and re-election of officers without discussion on Monday night, March 6, by unanimous voice votes. The school budget represents projected spending of $16,970 per equalized pupil; 8.94 percent higher than spending for the current year.
Elementary school budgets also passed in Woodstock, Bridgewater, Pomfret, Reading and Barnard.
The Woodstock Union High School District budget of $11,698,853 also passed in each of the six towns. The WUHS District budget represents projected spending of $17,477 per equalized pupil; 2.8 percent higher than spending for the current year.
Evan Johnson contributed to this report.