Act 46

Need a brief refresher on Act 46?

Friday's report is just the latest development in this school district consolidation process, which kicked off when then-Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Act 46 in June 2015. The law was supposed to “encourage and support local decisions and actions” around school district mergers. 

Read Act 46 as enacted here.

Back at that time, independent school boards — which generally came from single towns — oversaw their local schools. Under the new law, the preferred model was a single board, made up of representatives from a number of nearby towns, that governed all of the schools in the newly consolidated district.

Act 46 was rolled out in phases. School districts that voluntarily merged during the first two phases received financial incentives.

Eden Town Clerk Candy Vear, left, and Waterville Town Clerk Nancy LaRose, right, count ballots in the Lamoille Union High School library.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

An Act 46 vote held in a half-dozen Lamoille County towns Tuesday could spell the defeat of a state-ordered school district merger.

Testimony is heard on the House floor.
Toby Talbot / AP

This week House lawmakers gave an extension to some—but not all—school districts that have yet to merge under Act 46, giving some districts as much as an additional year to comply with the state's school district merger mandate.

House lawmakers approved an amendment Thursday that would give some school districts an extra year to comply with a district consolidation mandate.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

House lawmakers have decided that some Vermont school districts need more time to comply with a merger mandate, but they’ve left a fast-approaching deadline in place for others.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

House lawmakers appear poised to grant a yearlong reprieve to about half of the Vermont school districts that face a fast-approaching deadline for complying with a controversial school governance mandate.

Stowe is one of about 30 school districts in Vermont challenging a state law that requires them to merge with other districts. House lawmakers will vote next week on whether to delay that merger mandate, to give the court case time to resolve.
Ian Noyes / VPR file

The Vermont House of Representatives will vote next week on postponing implementation of a controversial school governance law.

Lawmakers such as Putney Rep. Michael Mrowicki, at the podium, are pushing for legislation that would give school districts more time to comply with a law that requires many districts to merge. About 30 districts are challenging the merger law in court.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A tri-partisan group of lawmakers want to postpone a legal deadline that will otherwise force Vermont school districts into involuntary mergers by July 1.

State Board of Education Chair Krista Huling looks over a school district map during a recent meeting reviewing Act 46 mergers.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR FILE

The Agency of Education is recommending that school districts abide by the deadlines spelled out in Act 46, Vermont’s school district consolidation law, even though a court case challenging the law has been delayed.

A group of people around tables at a State Board of Education meeting.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Many involuntary mergers under Act 46 are on hold — for now. This comes after lawyers on both sides of the legal issue agreed there needs to be additional time to brief what they deem to be difficult and complex issues.

In this file photo, Dummerston School Board Chairwoman Kristina Naylor talks about the school's alternative governance plan in opposition to merging with a nearby district. Naylor stands in front of a poster hanging up and points to it.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR File

A group of school districts filed a legal appeal Thursday challenging Act 46, the state’s school district consolidation law.

The exterior of Stowe Middle and High School on a cloudy day.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The first lawsuit challenging the state’s authority to merge school districts under Act 46 has been filed: The Elmore-Morristown Unified Union School District and the Stowe School District filed a suit Thursday against the State Board of Education.

Desks in a line in an empty classroom. Up close of one with books in it.
GlobalStock / iStock

The Agency of Education has issued the final Act 46 statewide plan. The final report from the State Board of Education merges 45 districts in 39 towns to form 11 new union school districts.

Attorney David Kelley faces the camera with arms crossed.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

An attorney who represents about 25 school districts that will be forced to merge under Act 46 says the newly approved statewide plan will likely be appealed in court.

State Board of Education Chair Krista Huling looks over a school district map during a recent meeting reviewing Act 46 mergers.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR FILE

For the past three years, school districts around Vermont have been in a voluntary phase, allowing voters and school boards to work on their own Act 46 merger plans. In June, the acting Secretary of Education issued a statewide plan making a series of recommendations about unmerged districts. As the State Board of Education prepares to announce its final recommendations next week, Vermont Edition looks at how decisions are being made and what has and hasn't worked in the process.

The State Board of Education has less than two weeks to make its final decisions on which schools it will force to merge under Act 46, Vermont's school district consolidation law.

An empty classroom with a desk looking at a chalkboard. A pencil on the desk.
GlenJ / iStock

There were two Act 46 merger proposals on Tuesday’s ballots, and voters overwhelmingly rejected both of them.

A group of people around tables at a State Board of Education meeting.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The State Board of Education is finishing up its work on the Act 46 statewide plan, and at a meeting in North Clarendon on Monday, the board debated some of the most complicated merger proposals.

Vermont Education Secretary Dan French, left, and State Board of Education chairwoman Krista Huling consult a merger map during a State Board meeting Wednesday.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

On Wednesday, the State Board of Education began its process for deciding which school districts will be forced to merge under Act 46, Vermont’s school district consolidation law.

Two Townshend Elementary School students sit at a table.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

State government almost shut down earlier this year, and the fight was largely over education funding.

And all of those debates in Montpelier, and negotiations over taxes and education costs? They’re all rooted in the decisions that local school boards make around this time of year.

Christine Hallquist, the Democratic candidate for governor, outlines parts of her education platform in Burlington on Wednesday, stading behind a Christine for Vermont sign outside.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist outlined some aspects of her education platform on Wednesday in Burlington, saying she supports a change in how public schools are funded.

A meeting with Vermont Agency of Education staff facing State Board of Education members in Bethel.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

After an all-day meeting Tuesday in Bethel, the State Board of Education has adopted a set of guidelines to help steer its decisions about which school districts will be forced to merge under Act 46.