Local News

New merger plans in the works for area towns

By Evan Johnson

After multiple failed votes and revotes, school officials in four central Vermont towns are exploring or putting forward new consolidation plans for their area schools.  Royalton and Bethel are now moving forward on a possible partnership, as are Rochester and Stockbridge.

In a plan that resembles parts of a three-town plan that failed this spring, the towns of Bethel and Royalton are planning on putting forward a plan to merge their supervisory unions. Articles must be finalized for presentation to the State Board of Education on Aug. 30, as well as a petition to revoke a plan to merge Bethel and Rochester. The composition of the school board will consist of six members, three from each town. The board members are “at large,” meaning that they are charged with acting in the interest of all district schools.

Tuesday, Oct. 24 has been selected for the vote. That date is pending approval of the town clerks in Royalton and Bethel.

Meanwhile in Rochester and Stockbridge, school officials are looking at creating a pre-K through grade 6 structure. Students would would attend elementary schools in their respective towns and then attend the middle school and high school of their choice for grades 7-12.

Rochester will not operate a high school this coming school year.  The 17 current high school students will be tuitioned to neighboring schools.

The school board selected clerk Amy Wildt, chair Jeff Sherwin and Megan Payne as committee members with Rob Gardner and Frank Russell as alternates.

The first meeting of the study committee is set for Thursday, Aug. 17. The committee plans to present the plan to the Vermont Agency of Education by the end of the month and then, if approved, vote on the measure by November.

School begins the last week in August for most area schools.

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