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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Windham Supervisory Union Cancels Unified Union Vote

The Windham Central Supervisory Union has canceled a five-town vote on whether to form a Unified Education District.

The vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 8. The measure called for five southern Vermont towns to dissolve their school boards and create a single Unified Education District Board.

That vote was canceled when the state board of education reversed its earlier approval of the agreement signed by the five-town committee studying the issue.

The agreement allowed member towns to request a second vote, with one vote for each town, on any Unified Board decision.

The Vermont Attorney General challenged the two-vote option. The committee revised the provision, and the state board approved it,  but not in time for the October vote.

The vote has been rescheduled for June of next year. Emily Long, who chairs the study group, says that even if the article doesn’t pass, the idea isn’t going away.

“I haven’t any doubt that there will be another proposal for some kind of change in the way we operate,” says Long. “This is definitely a good step for our kid,  to be able to maintain the programs we have and give them more opportunities.”

Long says shrinking enrollment makes it hard for the region’s smaller schools to maintain programs in areas like music, arts and sports. She says a unified district would allow schools to share teachers and other resources.

The state has offered financial incentives for districts to merge into larger Regional Education Districts or Unified Education Districts. So far only one such district has been approved by voters.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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