RED Study Committee Launches into Summer Work
A recently formed committee crucial to the region’s future education governance announced its intentions on June 30 to ramp up the frequency of its public meetings in July and August. Last fall, six local school boards in the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union (BRSU) agreed to form a committee to explore the benefits and implications of merging districts. The districts of Danby, Dorset, Manchester, Mountain Towns RED, Mount Tabor and Sunderland comprise the Big RED Committee (RED stands for Regional Education District.) There are a few different options for merging under Vermont law, but this merger committee will start by examining the viability of a RED. If the above districts merged to become a RED, it would be a new district with one school board, one budget and one tax rate; this type of merger would mimic the 2012 merger of Londonderry, Landgrove, Peru and Weston into the Mountain Towns RED. Under Vermont law, districts are required to form a study committee and make a recommendation for merging before district voters have the final say.
The study committee met a total of three times in May and June, working to better understand the new contexts of education reform in the state; it also elected former Manchester School Board chair Jon Wilson as its chair; agreed to use some of the committee’s state grant money to hire recently resigned BRSU superintendent Dan French as its consultant; elected Dorset representative Richard Grip as vice-chair; and adopted norms for how the committee should efficiently conduct itself during meetings.
The Big RED has population-based representation from each district. The committee urges community members to attend meetings and contact their district representatives if they feel compelled. Grip states that, “We would like the public to come to the meetings to listen to the decision-making process, which may help to dispel any misconceptions people may have regarding Act 46 and its intended outcomes.”
The committee will work to produce a statutorily prescribed study-findings report and develop strategies for effectively communicating its complex work with the districts’ constituents. It will also develop a website in the coming weeks to share its work, contact information and materials to educate to the public on Act 46. Currently, agendas and minutes for past meetings can be found at the BRSU website. If members of the public cannot access certain materials, contact Wilson for assistance at email@example.com or at 802-379-8472.