By Lola Duffort, Staff

David Bickford, from the Elmore-Morristown board, told state officials that a forced merger between the two communities would cause people on the ground to “retreat” from the considerable – and voluntary – work already done to bring the two districts closer together. And Stowe school board member Jim Brochhausen read off a litany of data points to argue the two districts already had basically the same curriculum and substantial equity in both academic offerings and outcomes.

Their presentation almost convinced the state board, who revisited their decision later in the meeting at the prompting of student member Callahan Beck.

Carroll made a motion to reconsider the board’s earlier vote, saying that while he hadn’t agreed with the secretary’s reasoning in her proposed plan, a study of the districts’ joint alternative governance proposal had made him rethink his earlier decision.

“There’s pretty compelling evidence that the AGS proposal of these communities, and their track record of years and years of collaboration, shows that the AGS is highly responsive to the objectives of the act,” he said.

But the board split 4-4, with Huling then breaking the tie to vote against reconsideration.