CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Voters on Thursday gave strong approval to embarking on a path that could significantly change the Clarksburg School District.
With 59 registered voters in attendance at the special town meeting, the decision was unanimous to begin talks with Stamford, Vt., that could create Massachusetts' first interstate school district. The entire process took barely 15 minutes.
"We are delighted. There is a lot of work to be done but I think long term it's going to lend stability, cooperation, and I think it's going to be a good fit," said Town Administrator Carl McKinney.
McKinney and Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Levanos, a former School Committee member, had attended a meeting in Stamford last spring about the town's future in regard to Act 46, passed in 2015 by the Vermont Legislature to encourage consolidations between the state's more than 270 school districts as a way to streamline governance and find cost savings.
Stamford School, barely four miles from Clarksburg School, was being pushed to enter into a school union with the closest Vermont elementary schools, in Readsboro and Halifax. School officials balked at the idea of being able to share suppliers and staff with faraway Halifax and jumped on the idea proposed by McKinney and Levanos of joining with Clarksburg.
Despite it being across the state line, the Stamford Board of School Directors felt a union with Clarksburg would align with the spirit of Act 46.
Stamford overwhelmingly voted to reject the state's proposed union with the strong intention of entering into talks with Clarksburg. Since then, state legislators in both states have indicated their support and Massachusetts has ponied up $25,000 toward a feasibility study. Thursday's unanimous positive vote in Clarksburg is expected to prompt Vermont to do the same.
The vote will also formalize what have so far been informal talks between Stamford's ad hoc committee and Clarksburg officials. A consultant will have to be hired and the recommendations it puts forward worked into a legislative act that can be approved by both towns and state legislatures as well as the U.S. Congress.
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