WWSU ACT 46 SCHOOL GOVERNANCE CONSOLIDATION

Harwood Unified Union School District will become operational on July 1, 2017.

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, voters in all of the school districts of the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) voted to approve forming a Unified District, which will be known as the Harwood Unified Union School District.  Votes held by Australian ballot, and counted separately in Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and Waterbury resulted in the bringing together of the governance of WWSU schools into one system.

The new governance structure will become fully operation July 1, 2017.  During the year of transition, a newly formed board will begin working on the budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  A single budget for the operations of a coordinated PK-12 system will be presented to voters on Town Meeting Day in March of 2017.  On July 1, 2017, the seven boards of WWSU will be replaced with one 14-member board overseeing the unified district, with one blended tax rate adjusted for Common Level of Appraisal in each town.

The Act 46 Study Committee is encouraged by the support of its communities and looks forward to the educational excellence and opportunities for efficiencies that this merger provides.  When the State Board of Education approved WWSU’s Act 46 proposal for merging school governance at its April 19th meeting, it set the path for the June 7th vote.  By meeting the State’s July 1, 2016, deadline for maximizing state financial incentives, the education tax rates will be adjusted for a credit of 10 cents the first year of a shared budget, and decrease by $.02 a year until they expire.  In addition, the State will make available a grant of $130,000 to help pay for transition costs.

The unofficial results from the Act 46 governance consolidation merger special meeting vote  on June 7, 2016, within the Washington West Supervisory Union:

                                         In favor                        Opposed                  

          Duxbury                134                                  31               Vote passed

          Fayston                  209                                  47               Vote passed

          Moretown            190                                  47               Vote passed

          Waitsfield             290                                  94               Vote passed

          Warren                   279                                  163            Vote passed

          Waterbury            451                                  29               Vote passed
 

Unified Union School District Board Members Elected:

Duxbury       Sam Jackson (3-year term) and Garett MacCurtain (4-year term)

Fayston         Heidi Spear (2-year term) and Jill Ellis (3-year term)

Moretown    Peter Langella (2-year term) and Gabriel Gilman (4-year term)

Waitsfield      Rob Williams (3-year term) and Christine Sullivan (4-year term)

Warren            Rosemarie White (2-year term) and Alycia Biondo (3-year term)

Waterbury     Alexandra Thomson and Colleen Ovelman (2-year terms), Jim Casey (3-year term), and Maureen McCracken (4-year term)

 

Act 46 - Call for Comment

Prompted by the incentives and requirements set out by the General Assembly in 2015, No. 46 ("Act 46"), the boards of the WWSU districts have formed a committee to study the advisability of forming a union school district.  In the WWSU, this would mean joining Crossett Brook Middle School, Thatcher Brook Primary School, Fayston Elementary School, Moretown Elementary School, Waitsfield Elementary School, Warren Elementary School, Harwood Union Middle School, and  Harwood Union High School under the umbrella of a single SU-wide district board.  

If the committee determines that it is advisable to form a union school district, it is to prepare a report--in the form of Articles of Agreement between member districts--setting out the structure and rules by which the proposed union school district will operate.  The residents of member districts will then vote to opt in or out of the proposed agreement. Act 46 offers the most favorable tax and funding incentives to communities that vote to merge before July 1, 2016.  For this reason, the study committee intends to complete its work by spring.  

Decisions made in the next several months stand to affect the financial stability, educational offerings, and administrative organization of the WWSU schools long into the future.  Done right, an Act 46 merger offers wonderful opportunities to optimize the efficiency of our schools, control spending, and offer our children specialized curricular and extracurricular choices rarely found in small schools.  But merging also presents us with uncertainty and challenges us to capture the benefits of merged governance without sacrificing the local character of our community schools. 

The study committee is committed to ensuring that all community members, parents, and students have a voice in these decisions. We want you to understand the challenges we face and the reasons for our recommendations.  Study committee meetings are open to the public, and committee members want to hear from you.  Please join us at a meeting or write to us to share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas.

How to Comment

To send comments, email act46merger@wwsu.org.  Your comments will be read by the committee chair and vice-chair as they arrive, then distributed at the next bi-weekly meeting of the study committee and executive committee.  Please indicate your district of residence.  Written comments become part of the committee's public records, so students are asked to obtain parental permission before writing.  Although all comments will be read and discussed by the study committee, we are not able to provide individual replies.  To find your district's delegate to the study committee, please consult the membership list.


The local school boards of the Washington West Supervisory Union held a first presentation on Act 46 or H.361 on September 8th at HUHS.  Watch video here.  More information on, Act 46, can be found here.

Act 46: School Consolidation - Presentation to the Full WWSU Faculty: view here.

 

Welcome to Washington West Supervisory Union.

The Washington West Supervisory Union serves 6 rural communities in central Vermont, just east of the Green Mountains range.  The towns include Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and Waterbury.  Each community in WWSU has its own elementary school with its own flavor and setting.  These sending schools feed Harwood Union which is located on 160 acres approximately equidistant from the north and south ends of the district. 

WWSU is comprised of four PK-6 elementary schools, one PK-4 Primary school, one 5-8 middle school and a high school serving grades 7-12; a total of seven schools. All of our schools have high academic expectations and score at or above the state average consistently in areas of language arts, math and science.  WWSU is a wholesome, livable district with strong community support for and participation in the educational process. 

To learn more about WWSU, please peruse the WWSU Mission and our Action Plan

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