Windsor, West Windsor Pass Act 46 Merger

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 3/6/2018 9:07:14 PM
Modified: 3/7/2018 12:41:01 AM

Windsor — The proposed merger of the Windsor and West Windsor school districts was easily approved by voters in both towns during all-day balloting on Town Meeting Day.

Windsor voters passed the merger, 347-153. In West Windsor the tally was 243-138, for a combined total of 590-291. The merger will occur in July 2019.

“I think this is going to be an amazing opportunity for the two communities to come together to provide educational opportunity for all students,” Windsor School Board Chair Amy McMullen said on Tuesday night.

McMullen was elected to the new unified school board with Windsor School Board members Beth Carter and Kris Garnjost. West Windsor’s board members will be Elizabeth Burrows, William Yates and Nancy Pedrick, all current School Board members.

McMullen said the merger can help meet the goals of sustainability, equity and educational opportunity that were outlined in Act 46. The school consolidation law was passed by the Legislature in 2015 with the goal of reducing per pupil and administrative costs and expanding educational opportunities by creating school districts of at least 900 students.

Burrows, the West Windsor School Board chair, said she was pleased with the solid turnout from both communities. “I look forward to this partnership,” Burrows said by phone Tuesday night. “I think we can do a lot of good for both towns.”

Under the merger, families in West Windsor ultimately will give up school choice for secondary grades, sending them to Windsor High School. Following a grandfathered period during which West Windsor students from sixth grade and up can continue to exercise school choice, all students will go to school in Windsor after finishing at the pre-K to sixth-grade Albert Bridge School. McMullen said now the unified board must work on a budget and developing policies during this transition year. “We have a lot work but I am excited and am looking forward to it,” she said.

In the only contested race on the Windsor ballot, Selectboard incumbent Heather Prebish won a second, three-year term over Eric Saltonstall, 359-130.

All town and school warning articles passed easily, most by a more than 2-to-1 ratio. These included the $8.6 million school budget, which represents an increase of about 2 percent over current spending. School Board officials attributed the need for additional spending to higher employee compensation.

The municipal budget that passed stands at $4.9 million. Voters also approved separate appropriations for social service agencies and the library.

The school merger does not change the makeup of the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, which will remain with four towns, including Hartland and Weathersfield. Rather than become part of a unified district, Hartland and Weathersfield opted to seek state approval, to be decided later this year, to remain as standalone, K-8 districts, which would allow them to retain high school choice. A unified district with Windsor would have sent all students in the four towns to Windsor High School.

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