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After Vote, Vernon Not Allowed To Leave High School District, Complicating Act 46 Plans

Howard Weiss-Tisman
The Windham Southeast Act 46 Committee is going to have come up with a new plan after a request by Vernon to leave the union high school district was rejected by Dummerston voters.

Vernon will not be allowed to leave the Brattleboro Union High School District after voters in Dummerston rejected the plan Tuesday.

Vernon wants to leave the high school to allow the other four towns to merge under Act 46, Vermont's school district consolidation law.

For Vernon to leave BUHS all four towns in the high school district would have had to approve  the move.
Brattleboro, Guilford and Putney all approved Vernon's request, but with Dummerston voting "no," Vernon will not be allowed to leave the union high school district.

Vernon has school choice and the district isn't willing to give up that option to merge with the rest of the district.

During Act 46 talks earlier this year, Vernon decided  to leave the high school district and allow the other four towns to put a consolidation plan together.

Vernon has not been taking part in the  Act 46 talks in Windham Southeast.

It was not at all clear how Vernon was going to move ahead to meet the requirements of Act 46 in lieu of merging with its neighbors.

Tuesday's vote throws a monkey wrench in both Vernon's plans and in the proposed merger that school officials in Windham Southeast Supervisory Union hoped to have ready in time for a Town Meeting Day vote.

Vernon School Board chairman Mike Hebert said the Vernon school board would meet Wednesday, and would be talking with an attorney to see if there are legal actions they could use to prevent the rest of the supervisory union from including Vernon in the Act 46 talks.

"If we stay within this district we lose school choice and we will not do that. Vernon is not going to give up school choice without a fight," Hebert said. "This really complicates things and we'll take a look at what legal actions are open to us."

Dummerston voters can ask for re-vote.

If the vote stands, the Windham Southeast district is going to have to get very creative to figure out how to merge the school districts since Vernon, a member of the high school district, doesn't want to take part in the Act 46 talks.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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