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To Meet Act 46 Requirements, Stamford Considers Joining With Mass. Town

The tiny town of Stamford is looking into forming a new school district with nearby Clarksburg, Massachusetts, to meet the provisions of Act 46.

If the plan moves ahead, it would be the first joint school district between Massachusetts and Vermont.
Stamford votes next week on an Act 46 merger plan with the nearby Vermont towns of Halifax and Readsboro.

But Stamford school board member Erika Bailey says people from nearby Clarksburg reached across the state line recently to talk about forming a joint-state district.

And Bailey says that if the Vermont vote is rejected next week, it might make sense to talk to the people in Clarksburg.

"I think it's a viable option to look at," Bailey says. "If the townspeople choose to look into this, I will definitely support trying to figure out what the best option is for our children and our town."

Stamford is currently in the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union with Wilmington, Whitingham, Halifax, Searsburg and Readsboro.

If voters approve the Act 46 plan next Tuesday, Stamford will join Halifax and Readsboro — but Bailey says in a lot of ways, the joint district makes more sense.

The state originally was giving districts until July 1 to hold votes and receive tax breaks, but legislation passed this year extends that deadline until Nov. 30.

Those two Vermont towns are also about 24 miles away, on winding mountain roads, and Clarksburg, Massachusetts, is 4 miles down a relatively safe and flat highway.

Plus, Bailey says a lot of people who live in Stamford drive through Clarksburg on their way to work in Massachusetts.

"People have relatives and friends that live in both towns," says Bailey. "In small towns, you all stick together."

Stamford has high school choice, and some of its students use vouchers to go high school in Massachusetts.

Vermont was part of the first joint compact district in the nation, when Norwich joined with Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1964 to form the Dresden School District.

The two states also currently operate the Rivendell Interstate School District, with the Vermont towns of Fairlee, West Fairlee and Vershire, and the New Hampshire town of Orford.

The new interstate school district would need to be approved by both Vermont and Massachussets, and by the U.S. Congress.

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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