Letter to the editor: Bristol board sees benefits in ANeSU merger plan

Why We Should Vote Yes on Act 46 in ANESU. The Bristol Elementary School Board encourages all registered Bristol voters to vote YES on Article I on Nov. 8, which proposes the creation of a new Unified Supervisory District, the Addison Northeast Supervisory District, which will be composed of the current Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven, Starksboro and Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School Districts.
Article I is the culmination of the intensive work of the Act 46 Study Committee and their subsequent Report. The Article is quite lengthy, so voters are encouraged to read it before voting and attend the information meeting hosted by the Bristol School Board on Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in Holley Hall. The Bristol School Board supports the work of this Act 46 Study Committee and presents the following information to Bristol voters to encourage them to vote Yes.
What is Act 46? Act 46, signed into law in June 2015, encourages and eventually requires school districts to merge into larger units (Unified Supervisory Districts) over the next four years in an effort to better serve students and manage costs. Act 46 offers financial incentives, including property tax rate reductions on a four-year sliding scale. Districts that do not have a voter-approved unification proposal on or before July 1, 2017, will receive none of the financial incentives, including the four years of property tax rate reductions.
What are the benefits of a Unified Supervisory District? A Unified Supervisory District will ensure Bristol students receive equitable learning opportunities and resources at a cost deemed acceptable to our community. We will be better equipped to respond to fluctuations in student enrollment and sizable or unforeseen building maintenance if we are operating our school within a larger Unified Supervisory District.
Unlike the present situation where individual taxpayers do not vote on the Supervisory Union budget, in a Unified Supervisory District all spending would be under a single budget and therefore allow for greater accountability, public input and direct approval by taxpayers.
In addition, the current governance structure of our Supervisory Union is inefficient and often ineffective. Going from seven individual boards to one unified board representing all students in the five towns will promote productivity and transparency with a greater focus on student outcomes, and the consistent implementation of the Vermont Educational Quality Standards and Flexible Pathways learning initiatives.
What will happen if we do not approve unification? If no action is taken by July 2017, the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union can propose an “alternate structure,” but the State Board does not need to accept such a proposal, and can in fact order the creation of a unified district in whatever configuration they deem appropriate with none of the financial incentives, tax rate reductions or support.
Acting now promotes local, control and acting to unify exempts our region from a redistricting plan which will be developed by the State Board of Education in the fall of 2018. For more information, please attend the Act 46 public information meeting on Tuesday, Nov.1 at 5:30 p.m. in Holley Hall. Representatives of the Act 46 Study Committee and the Bristol School Board will present information about the unification proposal and be available to answer questions.
You are encouraged to read Article I in its entirety before voting on Nov. 8. The Article, the full report of the Act 46 Study Committee and FAQs can be found at www.anesu.org/home/act-46-unification-study. Thank you.
The Bristol Elementary School Board Elin Melchior, Chris Scrodin, Allison Sturtevant, Colleen Wedge, Krista Siringo

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