ARLINGTON >> The Arlington School District is asking to join the Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union.
If accepted, it would end the district's yearlong search to find a partner as required by Act 46 passed in 2015. Arlington is currently a member of the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union, along with Sandgate.
As part of that process, the board also voted to do a self-study to petition the state of Vermont to remain its own district, under the BRSU umbrella. "That means we have to do a study and prove to Vermont that we meet all the goals of Act 46," said current BVSU Superintendent Judith Pullinen, "and that we do not need to merge in order to meet those goals."
"Instead of BVSU," she explained to the board, "you would join BRSU. That would be your superintendent, your business manager, all your business functions, as well as your special education, and all your grants, and all your transportation. Those things would be what you would need to be looking at, transition-wise."
Arlington had held discussions about a potential merger with Shaftsbury, which could still happen should Shaftsbury decide to leave the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, but that seems to be a longshot at this point due to time constraints and the stringent requirements necessary to withdraw from the Mount Anthony Union district, including positive votes in every member town.
"We're not going to turn our back on that option with Shaftsbury," said Arlington School Board Chairman Gerald Woodard, who said that should Shaftsbury successfully withdraw from the SVSU, the town could join still merge with Arlington to form a K-12 district, which would in turn be part of the BRSU.
The BRSU is considering undergoing extensive changes to its own structure in order to come into compliance with the 2015 education law. As Pullinen explained, "There would be a non-operating district with Sandgate, Stratton, Winhall, and (Searsburg). Then there's the big pre-K through eight, with Manchester, Dorset, Flood Brook, and all of those. Then there's the smaller one with the New York option (Pawlet, Rupert, and Wells have tuition agreements with New York high schools). We would potentially be their fourth school district in their SU."
Should this scenario move forward, the BVSU would dissolve. Sandgate would continue to have school choice, as a non-operating district, and Pullinen said she expects many students from that town will continue attending Arlington schools, just as they do now. Pullinen said the next step will be for Arlington to ask BRSU to join its governance committee, which is currently discussing the SU structure.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.