Cambridge residents will have an opportunity to vote on March 7, 2017 on whether or not to join the Lamoille North Modified Unified Union School District.
Vote Results from March 7, 2017
A message from the Cambridge Elementary School Board:
A significant change came to the Lamoille North Supervisory Union this past year with the Act 46 merger vote, held last April 12. Four of the LNSU communities elected to merge into a single district, while Cambridge voters elected to remain a separate district. The outcome of that vote generated more questions about CES’ future.
Since the April 12 vote, the Cambridge Elementary Board has researched options that are available to CES going forward. In an effort to be proactive, the Board will engage the community again to discuss what we’ve learned. We will present these options in a forum in conjunction with our budget information meeting scheduled for March 1, 2017, 6pm at Cambridge Elementary School. The Board plans to stream the March 1 forum over the internet, through the CES website, for those who are unable to attend in person. Additionally, the Board will mail an informational flyer to voters in Cambridge. This webpage will also be updated in the coming weeks with new information.
As a part of this community dialog, we will give voters the opportunity to revisit the question of a merger with Lamoille North as one district, using the most current information available. We are presenting an Article for the voters’ consideration, by Australian ballot, on March 7, 2017, Town Meeting Day. All voters are encouraged to attend and participate.
Act 46 FAQ
Act 46, signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin on June 2, 2015, provides tax incentives to encourage small school districts to dissolve and together form new, larger
districts that have 900 or more students. It’s an opportunity for districts and supervisory unions to unify existing disparate governance structures into sustainable
systems of education delivery that are designed to meet identified State goals, while recognizing and reflecting local
Act 46 is designed to encourage and support local decisions and actions that: provide substantial equity in the quality and variety of educational opportunities statewide; lead students to achieve or exceed the State's EducationQuality Standards; maximize operational efficiencies through increased flexibility to manage,share, and transfer resources; promote transparency and accountability; and deliver at a cost that parents, voters, and taxpayers value.
There are two options for our current Lamoille North Supervisory Union. The first option - if all six towns vote yes - is the accelerated option, which would create a single district to serve all students PreK - 12 in all six towns, replacing the seven districts which now exist. The second option - if four or five towns vote yes - is a modified option that would serve all students in the towns that vote yes, while the towns voting no would retain their boards.
The new district’s equalized homestead property tax rate shall be decreased by $0.10 in the first fiscal year of operation, $0.08 in the second, $0.06 in the third, $0.04 in the fourth, and $0.02 in the fifth. During the years in which the homestead property tax is reduced, the equalized tax rate for each town will not increase by more than five percent in a single year.
The new district’s equalized homestead property tax rate shall be decreased by $0.08 in the first fiscal year, $0.06 in the second, $0.04 in the third, and $0.02 in the fourth. During the years in which the homestead property tax is reduced, the equalized tax rate for each town will not increase by more than five percent in a single year.
The school buildings and land needed to operate the school will be shifted from the current town district to the new consolidated district. We value our local schools as community centers. The schools will continue to be the center of each community, and may be used for school and community activities.
All assets and liabilities will be assumed by the new unified school district. Building and maintaining schools is a long-term investment. By unifying, we spread out the financial bumps so that the costs of buildings and upkeep are spread out over a larger base. This will help some communities more now, but will help all of our communities over time.
They will go to the same school they attend now at least through the 2019-2020 school year unless it is the mutual preference of a family and the new district that a student attend a different school within the district. A unified district will provide us that flexibility, should it be desired. Beginning in 2020, the new district board, with representation from each of the forming towns, will have the authority to adjust school building designations, school attendance, and school configuration as needed to improve educational outcomes and hold down costs.
No school closures are planned or even anticipated at this time. Our local schools are very important to each of our communities and any future consideration of a school closure would trigger a very high approval threshold. No school can be closed without a 75% majority of the board voting in favor of closure in two consecutive votes, with at least one year between those votes.
Belvidere shall have one board director; Cambridge, five board directors; Eden, two board directors; Hyde Park, four board directors; Johnson, five board directors; and Waterville, one board director.
Petitions are available now at your town clerk’s office. All interested parties must pick up a petition and get 30 signatures or 1% of the registered voters, whichever is less, even if you’re a town where the school directors are usually nominated and voted from the floor. Since all votes related to Act 46 – to approve unification and to elect board directors – will be voted by Australian ballot, petitions must be submitted to your town clerk in order to appear on the ballot. Completed forms must be submitted to your respective town clerks no earlier than March 3, 2016, and no later than March 14, 2016.