This article first appeared in the June 26, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.
By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
School enrollment is declining across the state, but Windsor Central Supervisory Union may gain some additional students next year.
The state Board of Education decided Tuesday morning that Pittsfield students will become part of Windsor Central on July 1. The decision was part of a recommendation to dissolve the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union, which includes Bethel, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Hancock and Granville students.
Pittsfield, a town without a school, has about 70 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, said Pittsfield School Board member Kris Sperber. About 35 of them already attend WCSU schools — 25 go to Killington Elementary School and 10 go to Woodstock Union High School-Middle
The Pittsfield School District board has been pushing for this change since the start.
“It just made sense for our kids and for administration for them to be more in the supervisory union that they attended,” Sperber said.
Windsor Central Superintendant Alice Worth couldn’t be reached for comment, but at the last Woodstock Union High School board meeting, she said the additional students would have a “very low impact” on the supervisory union, considering most of them already attend schools in the supervisory union.
“We’re preparing ourselves to move in that direction,” she said.
The Board of Education decided to wait until January to talk more about the fate of Windsor Northwest, which is the smallest supervisory union in the state with about 466 students.
“It gives them the opportunity to suggest anything that they might like better and it also provides information that the board will be able to use in reaching a decision,” said Agency of Education Finance Manager Vaughn Altemus.
If Windsor Northwest were to dissolve, all the other towns in the supervisory union, including Granville, Stockbridge, Rochester, Bethel and Hancock, could become part of Orange-Windsor Supervisory Union.
The Orange-Windsor and Windsor Northwest boards are going to look at what consolidation will be like, including how to consolidate labor contracts, afterschool programs, governance, assessment formulas they will submit a progress report to the state by October and the results of their findings.
“There’s a large number of areas that we need to address,” said Windsor Northwest chair Carl Groppe.
There is also a consolidation study between Barnard, Bridgewater, Woodstock and Pomfret schools to look at how they could share education costs. The results of the study are expected to be released this summer.
Sperber’s hoping the change will lessen the tax burden on residents.
“I’m hoping taxpayers notice because I hope if it doesn’t reduce the cost of administration, it at least keeps (taxes) from rising as rapidly as they have been,” she said.