Don't let fear cast your merger vote


If you needed a reminder that Act 46 is a significantly flawed piece of legislation, a few minutes at the forum held Tuesday at Burr and Burton Academy's Riley Center on the proposed Taconic & Green Regional Education District merger served as a quick reminder.

It's also not a storm that the region can ride out. Legislators on the panel at Tuesday's forum made it crystal clear: There's no indication that the Legislature will make substantive changes to Act 46 anytime soon.

But is it all so dire? Is the only reason to vote for the Taconic & Green merger the fear that the state's education bureaucracy might impose something area residents might not like?

We think not, because out of challenge springs opportunity.

The Taconic & Green merger proposal was crafted by more than a dozen local volunteers who put local agendas aside and built a governance framework for a sustainable larger district. With as many as nine towns standing together, that district stands a better chance of innovating and providing equal opportunity for its children than any of the individual district boards might achieve on their own.

This isn't to gloss over the loss of school choice for middle school in Sunderland, Danby and Mount Tabor, or the fact that Act 46 doesn't allow for a divorce between districts if they find that this marriage doesn't work. These factors need to be considered carefully, and we urge anyone who hasn't read the entire report to do so before voting Tuesday.

There's a temptation, when facing the unknown, to fixate on the worst-case scenario. And much of that thinking revolves around the loss of local control and what that might mean for a given school district and its taxpayers.

Yes, a district with representatives from as many as nine towns is not the same as a one-town district with five board members. But that board only ceases to be "local control" if your definition of "local" is the town line.

Towns such as Winhall and Danby are Manchester's neighbors. Their residents shop at many of the same businesses and eat at the same restaurants — many of which are in Manchester. And they're connected to Manchester and each other through BBA and Long Trail School.


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