All the latest news, press releases, and commentary from Heidi E. Scheuermann.

News and Citizen / Stowe Reporter Editorial

December 6, 2018

The schools are well-run, efficient, effective and innovative. But the law says that if districts can merge easily, they ought to merge, or be forced to merge.

So, the state board made a decision by default, not because it’s right.

And that’s not right.

By Josh O'Gorman, Stowe Reporter Staff

Board member Oliver Olsen made the motion to allow Elmore-Morristown and Stowe to remain independent.

“Their current structure allows them to meet the goals of Act 46,” Olsen said. “Of all the proposals, I found this one to be the most compelling. They are working well together.”

Carroll said the board’s deliberations had been “dismissive” of alternative governance proposals, such as the one offered by Elmore-Morristown and Stowe; the proposals did not receive a fair hearing because they differed from the preferred structure described by the law.

“It’s like saying, ‘I don’t like cats because they’re not dogs,’” Carroll said.

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.