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Residents in five towns to cast ballots on ANeSU unification plan

BRISTOL — Voters in the five towns of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union on Tuesday will decide whether to unify governance and budgets of the district’s eight schools. They will also elect members of the unified school board, in case the unification article passes.
The future of school governance in the Bristol area has been a hot topic of discussion, as the ANeSU Act 46 Study Committee this summer produced a unification plan that was accepted by the State Board of Education and three members of the committee produced a minority report that suggested a different path.
The three other supervisory unions that serve most of the rest of Addison County — Addison Central, Addison Northwest and Rutland Northeast — all OK’d governance unification measures earlier this year. Voters in the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union, which includes Orwell, reject unification proposals twice this past spring.
Supporters of the district governance unification in Addison Northeast have offered support for their plan that echoes some of the same themes as the others that have passed.
Allison Sturtevant, vice chair of the ANeSU Act 46 Study Committee, laid out reasons to back the plan in a letter to the editor in today’s edition (see Page 7A). She said it will enhance equity and quality in educational outcomes for all ANeSU students by getting all stakeholders to work toward a single mission, provide greater equity in access to resources like technology and save around $140,000 a year by reducing redundancies. She also touts the four years of tax breaks that will go to homeowners in Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro.
In a letter published a few weeks ago, Lincoln resident Michael Fisher, one of the three No votes on the ANeSU Act 46 Study Committee, said he believed the proposal to consolidate the schools into one organization will do more harm than good.
He said adoption of the unification plan would result in less transparency and accountability, make it more difficult for community members to influence the direction of the schools, increase the power of the central office and superintendent, and weaken the links between the local schools and the people in the communities they serve. He also was not convinced that unification would save money.
If the unification measure passes, the new Addison Northeast Supervisory District will be created and it will be overseen by a 13-member board. Membership of the board was distributed based on population; Bristol will have five members and there will be two members each from Starksboro, Monkton, New Haven and Lincoln.
See the full text of the ANeSU Act 46 Study Committee Report and Minority Report by clicking here.
See a sample ballot from Bristol showing the question that five town residents will vote on by clicking here.

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