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Letter to the editor: Orwell loses local control and local ownership with Act 46

Vote no to Act 46 school consolidation of Orwell, Benson, West Haven, Fair Haven, Castleton-Hubbardton and Hubbardton school districts.
We are being asked again to vote on a consolidation plan that we the voters of Orwell have voted down two times already. Voted down with large margins.
A brochure was mailed out to all town residents stating the new proposal. Little has changed. We still lose our local control, our local school board, the ownership and control of our buildings, ability to vote on our own budget and input on hiring teachers and staff. No annual town school meeting in which we discuss and vote our budget and other important business. 
Once our buildings are owned by the new consolidated district, what will happen if Orwell decides to do major improvements or maybe even replace the town hall? Our town hall is used by many, our school, organizations, town meeting and many events and is an important part of our community. Right now if we decided to improve or replace the building the cost can be shared by the Orwell School District and the Town of Orwell. But if the consolidated district owns the building and refuses to spend any money on it that will put the citizens of Orwell in an impossible position.
Many of the reasons claimed by Act 46 have already been accomplished in our present supervisory union, such as consolidating busing, food service, special education, teachers’ contracts and pay scales and benefits, support staff, professional development and curriculum. We can continue to improve educational opportunities without consolidation.
It’s true that we have lost a lot of local control already. But the remaining control we do have is very important. 
Orwell Village School, and Orwell Town Hall are centerpieces of our strong, local and healthy community. They bring young and old together for education, recreation, self-governance, a place to call home. Let’s keep our individuality and not give local control over to others.
Paul A. Stone
Orwell

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