VERGENNES — Voters in the five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns who want to learn more about the proposed unification of ANwSU governance under one board have a number of ways to do so before March 1 voting in each town.
ANwSU officials have scheduled one more informational forum devoted solely to unification — at the Addison Central School on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m.
ANwSU Superintendent Tom O’Brien also said unification questions will be welcome at school meetings in Addison and Ferrisburgh and at the annual meetings for Vergennes Union high and elementary schools.
For more information:
Addison will hold an Addison Central School budget informational meeting on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Addison’s annual school meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28. The Ferrisburgh Central School budget meeting is set for Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m., and the town’s annual school meeting begins at 1 p.m. on March 1, Town Meeting Day.
The annual VUHS meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, and the annual VUES meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23.
Each town’s annual report also contains the language that will create the new unified union. Main points include:
• It will be governed by one 12-member board with four representatives each from Ferrisburgh and Vergennes, two from Addison, and one each from Panton and Waltham. Voters in each town will also choose directors for the new board on March 1.
• All schools will be sold to the new union for $1, and returned to towns for the same price if no longer used for educational purposes. No schools will be closed for at least four years per state law, and no schools will be closed without a union-wide vote per the Articles of Agreement adopted by ANwSU board.
• The new union will also assume all debt from the schools, and be responsible for future maintenance and upgrades to the buildings. Existing capital funds will remain with towns.
• The new union will take full effect in 2012.
The language in the towns’ reports and on their ballots is identical, and is based on the Articles of Agreement approved by the ANwSU board and the Vermont Board of Education in December.
Copies of those full Articles of Agreement are available at the ANwSU office on Green Street in Vergennes and at each clerk’s office in the five communities.
The ANwSU website — anwsu.org — also has information on the unified union, including links to the warning in each town as well as the full Articles of Agreement. The site also attempts to answer “Frequently Asked Questions.”
The Addison Independent website — addisonindependent.com — also offers a box on its homepage titled “ANwSU Unification Explored” that links to articles written on unification.
That section also features a link to the ANwSU home page.
Those articles offer some residents’ objections to unification as well as some citizens and officials’ reasons for backing it.
ANwSU.org also provides links to overviews of state legislation that offers incentives to school districts that unify, including a one-time cash payment and four years of property tax breaks.
Those tax breaks start at 8 cents a year off the state education tax rate, and drop by 2 cents a year over the five years — in the second year, the tax break is 6 cents; in the third year; 4 cents; and in the fourth years, 2 cents.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.