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Brattleboro School Vote Results

YES 162
NO 101

Annette L. Cappy
Brattleboro Town Clerk
230 Main Street, Suite 108
Brattleboro. VT 05301

ph 802-251-8129
fax 802-257-2312


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A bit more.

263 voters. Assuming the voter list is the same as in November, that 263 out of 8701 possible.

That means about 3% of us voted. I did.

In case you were unaware of the vote today, the issue was whether to allow Vernon to follow their own path rather than join a consolidated school district.


Ignorance, Misunderstanding, Apathy

It seems many people, despite all the articles, still didn't really understand what they were voting for or against. Hard to wrap one's mind around the complexities of Act 46.

Also people in surrounding towns didn't seem to understand why it was relevant to anyone outside Vernon.


The new wave of active citizenry.. cough, cough

Might be a good question to people who are up in arms about Democracy in the US. Did you vote in the local school decision? Why or why not?

From my point of view, there was almost no information or publicity about this issue. Postcards were supposedly sent to some people - but not to the half of town that rents, it seems. No school board members made any case for or against to readers here, nor did any school folks even put the election in the calendar. And the vote was scheduled for a weird time - early December, when voting isn't on anyone's mind.

My vote was cast based on what Vernon said they wanted to do. Part of my 4 year plan to support others in their efforts, and I like local control of education.


More observations on the vote

In Guilford, where I'm an election official, we had 91 people vote from a checklist of over 1,600, so pretty similar. Guilford, Brattleboro & Putney voted Yes; the ratio looked about the same as in Brattleboro (haven't seen Putney.)

It's interesting that Dummerston, fairly similar in checklist size had about twice as many turn out as Guilford, & of course they were the deciding No vote. What this suggests is that there the anti group (& we've noted for some time that Dummerston uniquely has an actual group of into-Act-46 people, which no other town does) actually did some ground work to motivate people to go to the polls.

I talked to lots of people in the past week or so who had no idea there was a vote coming up, as Chris also noted. Even when I took time to explain what the vote was about there were yawns and glazed looks. A large number of residents of the 5 tonws have never quite got ahold of the fact that the high school belongs to all the towns. The Reformer has frequently been confused by the governance structure. A number of times their news stories have referred to the high school as part of the Brattleboro school system. Last week, they had an article about the vote with a headline saying the vote was to have Vernon withdraw from the WSESU. In fact, the BUHS District 6, which is what Vernon sought to leave, is, yes, a school district comprised of the 5 towns, and so is the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, but they're not the same thing.

With such a general lack of understanding about the structure, itself, little wonder that the vote on Vernon was such an abstraction to so many.

Chris properly notes that another reason for the low turnout was the lack of publicity about it. The Reformer, on the actual day of voting, had nothing (say, on the front page, for example) saying: Don't Forget to Vote Today. Or a box saying "Here's When the Polls Are Open in Your Town." Polling locations might have been a good bit of info to share.

None of this even addresses the actual issue (which, by the way, even for those who understood it was related to 46, & have an opinion about that, was confusing. "I'm against Act 46. Does that mean I should vote No on the Vernon question?" was a typical conversation.


Reasonable questions

It would be great if someone who understands this issue well would help the rest of us understand. Like, for instance, the last question: "I'm against Act 46. Does that mean I should vote No on the Vernon question?" ;)


Why would anyone say 'no'?

Here are a few possible reasons why someone might have voted ‘no’ on Vernon’s departure from WSESU:

1) They thought they were supporting the current five-town union (WSESU) that has been consistently described by administrators as a ‘really well run’ supervisory union.

2) They thought they were sticking up for Vernon students and families who will continue - for the most part - to attend BUHS, but with no seat on the school board, or even a place on one of the new (advisory only) Leadership Councils.

3) They were concerned because there is no certainty that the Agency of Education (AOE) approve Vernon’s single-town, stand-alone school district. Vernon will need permission from the state to operate as a separate district.

4) They couldn’t figure out how Vernon - surrounded by Brattleboro, Guilford, New Hampshire and Massachusetts could effectively join a school district other than WSESU. Dover? Marlboro?

5) They didn’t want to vote ‘yes’ on this out of expediency just so the other four towns could ease the path to their own merger. A ‘yes’ vote is necessary in order to move forward with the merger being proposed by the Act 46 Study Group for Brattleboro, Putney, Dummerston and Guilford.

6) They were concerned that Vernon’s plan to contract services such as Special Education from the very merger they refuse to join was not well-explained. The current administration claims that all of this will come out even in the wash. Having questions and concerns is not unreasonable.

7) They might have voted ‘no’ because it seemed the only lever available to slow down the Act 46 process.

Here is a link to a VT Digger article from about a year ago that tries to lay out the complexities of Act 46 in a comprehensible way. Read the article and the comments to get an overview of some of the challenges:




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With my current income, I could probably afford a total (town + school) tax increase of about