Letter: In favor of school merger


To the Editor: I was initially skeptical of Act 46, the school district merger law passed in 2015. It is a state law, however, and we must take the appropriate steps to follow its requirements. The law asks our neighboring school districts to look at their common structures and to evaluate the implications of coming together into a single school district. We have done that and it is now up to the voters to decide on the next phase, specifically "do we merge now?" Today I believe that the best path forward for us and for our students is to merge into The Taconic and Green Regional School District. This requires a "Yes" vote on March 7.As we currently stand our individual school districts are more similar than they are different. Under the oversight of our supervisory union we share many functions such as curriculum development, financial management, and professional education. We do not currently share a single budget, tax rate, or common school board and that will change under a merged district. But that change should provide us with more, not less, control over our shared educational values and our direction. Importantly, under a merged structure we can better address the variability in school enrollment as well as manage future financial challenges. I believe that those two elements are at the core of Act 46 and the main reasons why we need to come together.Changing to a single school district will not be a draconian process if we take control of the process now. Voting against this merger would defer our fate back to the state bureaucracy. That would result in a worse set of choices, or no choices at all. It would also mean foregoing significant, albeit temporary, tax incentives. If we vote "No" on March 7, the only thing we know with certainty is that our school districts will not be left in their current configurations. In my opinion, any obstacles of moving ahead with the merger now will be more manageable than the uncertainty of leaving an inevitable merger in the hands of the state.Throughout the last several years I have worked with many of the people willing to serve on the new merged school board. I believe that they share common values regarding our children and our educational system. We should thank them for committing to this important role. They, along with school principals and administrators, will be the leaders of our collective, local educational system -- not Montpelier and not Washington. I also urge all community members to be engaged in our school system and to participate as a mentor, volunteer, or committee member. My hope is that we can move forward together and take this opportunity to inject new enthusiasm and energy into our community.Jim MirendaMember, Dorset School Board, BRSU, and Northshire Merger Study Committee


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