Letter, Opinion

Vote “yes” on school board merger

Dear Editor,

Attention Killington taxpayers and residents: on Tuesday, March 7, you will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” to a potential Act 46 merger of our local school board into a new consolidated board consisting of members from other towns in our present supervisory union. After 18 months of meetings to explore this potential merged school board and its impact on the town of Killington, we are asking you to support this merger and vote “yes” on the Australian ballot. We believe that a merged district board will best serve the students of Killington, Killington Elementary School and our community.
We want you to clearly understand what a “yes” or a “no” vote means.
A “yes” vote means:
A unified board with one budget, much like our current unified middle school/high school, that would be voted on by Australian ballot by all of the member towns
Retention of small schools grants (the individual grants would be merged into the district wide budget)
Tax incentives over four years
Transition grant (applied to the district wide budget)
Total potential incentives of approximately $2.5 million in the first four years. (This amount is the approximate incentives given to the taxpayers of all six towns if all six towns merge, not just Killington; the potential tax savings to Killington residents is approximately $300,000 over four years.)
Commitment to a more flexible system, implementing potential campus restructuring and intra-district choice
A place on a new unified board. (Killington will have two seats on an 18-member proposed board—two each from Killington, Barnard, Reading, Bridgewater, Pomfret, Plymouth and six from Woodstock. Once Killington joins this unified board, it would be extremely difficult to leave such a board. Like the middle and high school board, there would have to be a vote of all towns to release one member town from the union.)
A “no” vote means:
Requiring our local school board to find other partnering districts to merge with, and submitting an alternative plan to the state by November 2017
If no alternative plan is submitted, the state will merge our Killington school district as it sees fit by 2019. (This means either leaving the WCSU or being merged anyway according to the current proposal.)
Loss of small schools grant. (This is not guaranteed but highly probable; Killington presently receives approximately $70,000 per year as a small schools grant from the state.)
No tax incentives
Exposure to steeper increases in per pupil spending and penalties if the excess spending threshold is exceeded.
We understand that this is an important decision for our community. Local control of Killington Elementary School and our local school budget has always been paramount to our town and a source of great pride. We come to you with this proposed merger because we care so much about our school and its continued sustainability and viability. We believe this merged board is the best way to ensure continued quality of educational programming and the academic excellence that will follow.
We believe that it is very important to be a part of the proposed new board at its inception. This way we will have a strong voice on that new board as we plan for our collective towns’ future. Two current school board members (Jennifer Iannantuoni and Jim Haff) are running for Killington’s two seats on this board.
We want to give you an opportunity to learn about Act 46 and its implications and to ask questions. Please come to the Killington Town Hall on Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. for an Act 46 information session. All minutes, draft reports and data relating to the proposed Act 46 consolidation can be found under the Act 46 tab at www.wcsu.net.

Jennifer Iannantuoni, KES board chair
Walter Findeisen, KES board member
Laura McKenna, KES board member
Jim Haff, WUMSHS board member
Roger Rivera, WUMSHS board member

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