A group of parents, students and taxpayers in Stowe are concerned about the adverse impacts that Act 46 has inflicted on local schools and communities, according to a press release. The group is asking the Stowe Selectboard to hold a special town meeting to vote on whether to withdraw from the forced merger of Stowe and Elmore-Morristown schools.
To that end, the group submitted petitions Monday to the Stowe town clerk with signatures of well over the required 5 percent of registered Stowe voters asking for this vote.
“Stowe schools have been the pride of our community for decades because of the dedication of our excellent teachers and staff, our town’s commitment to the schools over the years, and the excellent educational outcomes we have achieved,” said parent and Stowe public schools graduate Porter Thorndike, one of several local residents spearheading the drive to leave the merged district. “Our children deserve that pride and educational excellence to continue, and by returning local control of our schools to our community, we can do just that.”
Added former Stowe School Board and Lamoille South Supervisory Union Board member Jim Brochhausen: “Prior to the merger forced upon Stowe, Elmore, and Morristown — a decision all three communities fought fiercely against — the two independent school districts under one supervisory union was working well. We worked diligently together to achieve educational excellence throughout all of our supervisory union schools, and all of the economic efficiencies of one district, while ensuring we maintained local control of our own local schools. And, while some of us hoped the forced merger would work, in fact, it has only hurt our students, our schools and our taxpayers.”
“There have been no cost savings, spending and property taxes continue to increase, and most importantly, in some cases our educational opportunities have decreased, including the devastating decision made to eliminate Advanced Placement classes at Stowe High School this year,” he said. “We must return to the model that has proven successful — two independent districts within one supervisory union — and we must do so as quickly as possible.”
Lee Genung, another Stowe parent, said, “As a parent of children currently in Stowe public schools, I urge the people of Stowe to understand the challenges we face not having control of our local schools. Academic and extracurricular activity decisions are made by others, school budgets are decided upon by others, and so much more. Given the importance of our local schools to our children’s academic success, and our community’s economic success, we must be the ones making these critical decisions. Failing to resume control of our schools will have profound long-term, adverse consequences on our community.”
Former Stowe and Lamoille South Unified Union Board member Leigh Pelletier also said in the press release, “There is a long history of research and data conducted with engagement of outside education consultants, that made clear that the students in all three communities were best supported by maintaining Elmore-Morristown and Stowe as two high-functioning, side-by-side school districts.
“That conclusion had unanimous support among both Stowe’s and Elmore-Morristown’s school boards. Over the next two months prior to the vote, we ask our community to be engaged and learn about this issue. Stowe’s current and future students need us to advocate on their behalf.”