Governor lets school bill become law

MONTPELIER — Gov. James Douglas on Thursday allowed a voluntary school consolidation bill to become law without his signature.
Douglas, a Middlebury Republican, declined to sign bill H.66 because he said it did not go far enough in promoting the merger of education resources during an era of rising school budgets and declining enrollment in Vermont.
“While I support finding efficiencies through consolidation of school governance structures, I do not believe H.66 is a meaningful step to achieve that end,” Douglas said in a news release. “Not only does H.66 fail to recognize the immediacy of our need to control property taxes in Vermont, it will, frankly, do little to encourage consolidation of districts. I cannot endorse this timid approach with my signature and hope future Legislatures will finally act on meaningful education reforms to rein in property taxes.”
Officials in at least two Addison County school districts had been keenly watching legislative debate on school consolidation during the recently concluded 2010 session. Addison Northwest Supervisory Union residents last month reversed an earlier decision to approve one-board governance in their district. Meanwhile, the Addison Central Supervisory Union board last month agreed to form a committee to study the concept of school governance consolidation. The ACSU last year commissioned a report that revealed some potential advantages in merging school district resources.
Supervisory unions that take advantage of provisions of H.66 receive financial incentives for consolidation.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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