Act 46: An overview and reader resource


Act 46 is historic, ground-breaking legislation; that much we know already. What acts 60 and 68 did in 1997 and 2003 for changing the way education is financed in Vermont, so will Act 46 overhaul how it is governed, directed and organized.

How it will play out, and how Vermont's more than 270 school districts will look in 2019, when all the schools are supposed to have gone through a consolidation process, is what we don't know yet.

With an eye toward helping Vermonters and anyone else who may be interested in this historic — and, some will add, complex legislation — passed in May 2015 by the Vermont Legislature, the editors of the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer have assembled this collection of news stories, opinion pieces, editorials, and letters to the editors that explore the statute from various perspectives.

Whether you agree with Act 46 and its goals or not, our purpose here is to assist our readers in understanding the law which represents the most sweeping change in educational governance in Vermont for more than 100 years.

Learn more ...

Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe addressed Act 46 during a town hall

meeting at Bellows Falls Union High School on Wednesday, Nov. 4. 


• Official Agency of Education website on Act 46

Link to the official Act 46 statute

At the Sunderland Act 46 forum, School Director Melanie Virgilio listens to the comments 

from a table of townspeople attending the forum.


March 17

• Pownal's O'Connor: Act 46 situation is 'chaotic'

March 16

• Act 46: Merger study discussions advance

March 13

• Some districts left in limbo as revisions to merger rules languish (VT Digger)

March 11

• Shaftsbury school board re-evaluates Act 46 options

March 6

• Windham Southeast Supervisory Union committee wrestles with 'accelerated merger'

March 4

• Eleven school districts reject budgets on town meeting day (VT Digger)

• Bill puts new formula, education fund surplus into play on taxes (VT Digger)

March 3

Mountain Towns REd seeks merger study committee volunteers

March 1

• Brattleboro Act 46 Study Committee report

February 29

• Vermont board recommends Act 46 merger study (AP)

February 28

• Town meeting reports target state as biggest challenge (VT Digger)

February 23

• Act 46 study committee visits Woodford

School districts use reserves to stay under Act 46 thresholds

February 12

• Act 46 'tweak' helps Manchester, but doesn't eliminate penalty completely

Febuary 9

Vermont education board pushes for higher staffing (VT Digger)

February 5

• Study concludes Vermont may be spending too much on education

February 3

• Economic Development, Act 46 primary topics at joint legislative breakfast

February 2

• SVSU Act 46 study committee visits Pownal for hearing

January 29

• SVSU board finalizes district assessments, gets Act 46 update

January 21

• Leland & Gray board to present budget to community

January 19

• Early North Bennington school budget shows 6 cent tax rate decrease, should drop further

• Leland & Gray budget calls for $16,384 in spending per student

• Act 46: Windham Southeast Supervisory Union 'perfectly placed' for unification

January 17

• Finding 'middle ground' with Act 46's spending limit

• Board approves Manchester school budget, barely

• Act 46: District consolidation could be expensive for Brattleboro

January 15

• Act 46: Inaccurate data from Agency of Ed hurts school budgeting (VT Digger)

January 14

• Senate Education Committee votes to repeal school spending thresholds (VT Digger)

January 13

• House and Senate introduce competing bills to lessen impact of caps

January 11

• Tax rate decreases projected for many SVSU towns

• Shumlin speech inspires local lawmakers

January 10

• Act 46 spending caps could hit 106 districts (VT Digger)

• Some schools face tough decisions under spending caps (AP)

January 7

• Bennington School tax rate poised to decrease for first time in years

January 6

• Faced with a huge tax increase, public asks Manchester school not to cut programs

• 'Ad Hoc' committee launched

January 5

 • Act 46's spending limit is a challenge locally

 • Act 46: Lawmakers race to change school tax

 • Shaftsbury likely to avoid Act 46 spending penalties

• Burr and Burton raises tuition rates (VT Digger)


December 22

 • Act 46 talk dominates SVSU legislative breakfast

December 18

• Gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter talks economic development with local leaders

December 12

• 3 school districts consolidation plans approved

December 8

Manchester school board urges action on Act 46 spending caps

December 7

Viability of Leland & Gray in question as Act 46 merger talks move ahead

December 3

• Shumlin joins call for Act 46 fix (VT Digger)

November 18

11 school supervisory unions pursue accelerated mergers

November 17

'Figuring out the options': Act 46 committees form in Dover

November 16

Act 46 spending caps proving frustrating for some school boards (VT Digger)

November 13

The seeds of Act 46 (VT Digger)

November 10

SVSU Act 46 committee weighs pros and cons of consolidation

Explaining Act 46: VSBA answers questions about controversial law

School consolidation will save district $1M praised (Associated Press)

Top Vermont officials tout school consolidation in Essex (Associated Press)

November 9

School board member proposes unified district under new law

November 6

Arlington and Shaftsbury meet to discuss Act 46 merger possibilities

November 5

Vermont Secretary of Education presents Act 46

November 4

Manchester School Board says yes to merger study committee

House Education Committee Chairman David Sharpe visits Arlington to talk Act 46

Windham Central Supervisory Union grapples with Act 46 (VT Digger)

November 2

SVSU board gets Act 46 updates; North Bennington status

October 28

Dorset holds Act 46 forum; holds off on forming merger study committee

October 26

Sunderland explores Act 46 options

Agency of Education responds to North Bennington board members

October 23

Culkeen: Enrollment in SVSU down 16.9 percent over last 10 years

October 21

Manchester holds Act 46 forum

Dorset to hold Act 46 forum

Arlington School Board in ongoing Act 46 discussions

October 20

Prudential Committee voices concern on Act 46; free lunches

October 15

Bennington College hosts forum on Act 46

September 28

BVSU board to begin budget process

September 25

SVSU Act 46 study committee to meet, public forum to be held on Oct. 13

September 24

School choice ruling complicates consolidation talks (VT Digger)

September 16

Arlington School Board identifies four consolidation options

September 15

Education forum outlines Act 46

September 13

Shaftsbury to join SVSU Act 46 study committee

September 11

North Bennington Prudential Committee talks Act 46

September 4

Explaining Act 46: VSBA answers questions about controversial law

Bennington, Woodford to join Act 46 study committee

August 14

BVSU to discuss possible consolidation

August 7

Consolidation, new staff discussed at Bennington School District meeting

June 12

Shaftsbury school board talks Act 46, special educator transfer

June 8

Bennington School District board considers local implications of education bill

March 30

H.361 primary topic at SVSU Legislative Breakfast

March 2

Proposed education bill worries Pownal school board members

At left, Rep. David Sharpe, and Rep. Oliver Olsen at the Manchester Act 46 forum.


March 21

•  Jill Stahl Tyler | Education Matters: Making a stew — a reflection on Act 46

February 8

•  Hayden Dublois: What just happened with Act 46?

January 28

• Rob Roper | Act 46: Fix it all or repeal it all

January 26

• Steven Berry | Act 46:My View

January 19

• Jon Wilson: Why I voted for the budget

January 15

• Between a rock and a hard place

January 8

• Our Opinion: Act 46 growth cap is a costly savings


November 24 

• John McClaughry | Freedom as the school district solution

November 3

Bruce Lisman: Local control matters

October 27

Editorial: You can't have it all

October 26

Matt Dunne: Act 46 needs revision

October 19

Editorial: 'Blind-sided' legislators should fix Act 46

September 24

Editorial: School choice and Act 46

September 22

Editorial: Act 46 heralds large changes


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

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