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Barnard voters approve school district merger

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/11/2019 10:50:04 AM
Modified: 12/12/2019 2:53:47 PM

BARNARD — Voters in Barnard have approved a plan to consolidate their preK-6 school district into what would be known as the Windsor Central Unified Union School District.

In Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, Barnard residents voted 119-85 to approve merging the Barnard School District into the larger Woodstock-based district.

Final approval of the merger will also require a Town Meeting Day vote of residents in Bridgewater, Pomfret, Plymouth, Reading, Killington and Woodstock, and would lead to a name change of what is currently known as the Windsor Central Modified Unified Union School District.

Barnard residents had previously rejected a merger, and its School Board and Selectboard have joined a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of a provision Vermont’s Act 46 school-district consolidation law, but school officials more recently said the merger “could provide some financial stability.”

“The Barnard community and the Windsor Central Unified District has been working collaboratively over the past several years to align our student programs and the future vision of our schools. We are so pleased that our Barnard neighbors have taken the next step and voted to voluntarily join our merged community,” Windsor Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Mary Beth Banios said via email on Wednesday.

Barnard, which already sends its grades 7-12 students to schools in Woodstock, has 715 residents on its voter checklist, meaning more than 28% participated in Tuesday’s vote.

Pamela Fraser, a Barnard representative on the Modified Unified Union board, said there were “benefits and risks” in either staying independent or joining.

“At the end of the day, I just feel this is a big change and a big step, and we have to work to make it work, and hopefully it will,” she said.

Posted at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday. Updated at 12:30 p.m. with reaction, and correcting that approval needed from overall vote in other towns.

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