More questions than answers as community examines education

The advantages, they said, were the strong feeling of local responsibility and engagement, ease of access, efficient sharing of resources, great opportunities for sharing creative ideas, community support, local content in the curriculum and attracting superior quality candidates for superintendent.

The disadvantages the small groups saw for the current supervisory union governance system included too many meetings, redundancy, difficulty maintaining coherence, inequities, inconsistencies in preparation of students for secondary education, a tendency for boards to micro manage, and superintendent stretched too thin.

When asked to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed model advanced by the Commissioner, the groups suggested that there might be easier allocation of resources, more equity between schools, clearer lines of authority, consistency, a chance for the superintendent to focus on educational values, and perhaps one budget for the district. However the disadvantages listed by the groups reflected concern about community involvement and a diluting of public participation, a loss of the energy and ideas that are brought to a board when there are several representatives from each municipality, and a tendency to become more political.

As they posed questions that still need to be addressed, including how the budgets would be handled, whether small schools would be lost in the process, would there be an opportunity for magnet schools and school choice, might state-wide teachers contracts be part of the reform, as well as pointing to inconsistencies between the class size and the student/teacher ratios for the state, the participants expressed the need for more information on which to base an opinion in support of the proposed changes or in opposition to them.

As Maria Horn of Shelburne said, This discussion is only a beginning and there is much more to explore. We dont have enough information at this point to know if this is a good idea. Jeff Forward of Richmond commented, It would be better if this process came from the voters up instead of from the top down.

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