Date set for Orwell school governance revote

ORWELL — Orwell residents on June 21 will field, for the second time, a proposal under Vermont’s Act 46 to join five Rutland County communities in the Slate Valley Unified Union School District (SVUUSD).
Orwell citizens back on April 12 voted 211 to 121 against joining Castleton, West Haven, Hubbardton, Benson and Fair Haven in a new SVUUSD that would be governed by a single, 18-member board presiding over a global education budget for all of the schools in the union. Orwell was the only member of the current Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union that voted against the unification plan. A local resident successfully petitioned for the revote, which the Orwell School Board has set for Tuesday, June 21.
Some unification opponents who have spoken at informational meetings on the topic in Orwell have expressed fears that school governance consolidation might become a precursor to closing of some of the rural schools in the new SVUUSD. Others have said they fear a potential loss of local control that unification might bring.
But supporters of Act 46 have pointed to potential financial savings through governance unification, and note communities that have not joined a unified school district by 2018 will be required by the state to do so anyway — and the Vermont Agency of Education could direct them to join a district that might be less palatable than the one they rejected.
The June 21 vote will be for Orwell residents only.
An informational meeting on the unification proposal will be held on Monday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the Orwell Town Hall, with polls open the next day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., also at the town hall.

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