In the News

By Neal Goswami, WCAX TV

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, whose home district will be granted a delay, pushed House leadership to allow the votes and says she wishes her original plan had passed instead.

"We really pushed and they were gracious to allow it to happen. We really felt it important to express our views and the views of our constituents and to ensure we had some opportunity to give them to extend this merger deadline so these mergers can be done in the right way and a way that works for all of our students," Scheuermann said.

By Taylor Dobbs, Seven Days

House lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that would provide a deadline extension for some school districts that have been ordered to merge by Vermont's Board of Education.

The legislation is a scaled-back version of a proposal that would have provided a one-year extension for all of the districts that were required to merge by July 1, 2019.  That measure, which hd support from a tripartisan coalition of House lawmakers, failed Wednesday.


By Spencer Conlin,

The House adjourned after the 69-74 vote, but will take up another amendment Thursday that would allow for some of the districts to delay a merger.

The amendment that failed Wednesday was proposed by Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R- Lamoille-1. It came after several school districts filed lawsuits, challenging the mergers under the state Act 46 education law.

The communities being forced to merge are all in very different situations and at various points in the merger process," Scheuermann said. "In order to ensure confidence in both the law and the process, it is imperative that we are given more time."

By Lola Duffort,

The Vermont House of Representatives narrowly rejected a plan Wednesday to give a one-year extension to all school districts facing forced mergers under Act 46.

But House lawmakers, who voted 69-74 against a blanket delay, will take up another proposal Thursday giving certain districts extra time.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, who sponsored the legislation asking for a simple one-year delay, said that while she would have preferred another outcome, she was glad at least the partial delay proposal looks likely to pass.

“It was close. It was very close. We were almost there. But we’re going to have something that we can use as a vehicle to continue to pursue this,” she said.


By David Delcore, Rutland Herald/Times Argus

Scheuermann was among those who expressed reservations about what some viewed as a “divide-and-conquer” proposal.

Though Scheuermann said she appreciated the fact that her home district — Stowe — would receive an extra year to complete a forced merger with the Elmore-Morristown district, the exclusion of other districts was problematic in her view.

“I think it would be a hard sell on the floor to give that opportunity to some districts and not others,” she said.

By the time it was over, a clear majority of the committee backed the amendment that Webb said sets the stage for back-to-back floor votes Wednesday.

The new amendment, which was approved, 7-4, won’t replace the one proposed by Scheuermann, but it will be offered as an alternative if Scheuermann’s fails.

Webb said Scheuermann’s amendment would be considered first and the one that enjoys the committee’s favorable recommendation will be voted on in the event it fails. If both amendments are rejected, the July 1 deadline written into Act 46 nearly four years ago would remain in tact pending judicial intervention or additional legislation.

By Lola Duffort,

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, who sponsored H.39, told the committee Tuesday that their version of the bill would be a “hard sell” with lawmakers. And she said one of the main problems with Act 46 had been that the State Board of Education, which decided which districts should merge under the law, didn’t fully understand the local context.

“I would submit to you that picking out certain districts for extension and not extension, is something of a challenge. I don’t think members of the committee understand all of the districts, and what each of the situation is on the ground,” she said.

By David Delcore, Rutland Herald/Times Argus

Scheuermann is hoping to round up 76 lawmakers to support the proposal that some fear will derail mergers on their way to completion and be used by those more interested in undermining the law than having more time to comply with it.

By Lola Duffort,

Meanwhile, H.39 is expected to land in the House chamber next week. Anxious to move the legislation out of committee, where it has lingered for two weeks, Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, who sponsored the bill, earlier this week negotiated a commitment from House Speaker Mitzi Johnson for a floor debate and vote on Tuesday.

Scheuermann called the proposed amendment “a new and interesting thought,” and said she was fine with postponing the vote a little longer.

“If it’s possible that we can get the support of the committee for a delay, by going in this direction, if I need to give it another day, and our group needs to give it another day, we’re happy to do that,” she said.

By Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Public Radio

Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, the lead sponsor of the bill to delay the merger mandate, says efficacy for superintendents and other district administrators shouldn’t drive education policy.

“Easy isn’t necessarily right,” Scheuermann says. “And we need to do this right for the students.”

Scheuermann says in order to comply with the July 1 mandate, districts will need to move forward with merger plans prior to knowing the outcome of the court case.

And once they start down that road, Scheuermann says, “It’ll be virtually impossible to unravel these merged districts.”

By Tommy Gardner, News and Citizen and Stowe Reporter

After the state board decided in November to force dozens of districts to merge, a group of lawmakers is working to get a one-year merger moratorium passed, as early as mid-February.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, said she’s “been fighting against state control of education for years,” calling it “an uphill battle.” She said it’s been complicated, as school districts — the arranged marriage of Elmore-Morristown and Stowe is one of the more prominent forced mergers in the state — work to fight the merger while simultaneously preparing for it.

“We’re in territory we haven’t been in before,” Scheuermann said.