May 31st, 2016

WATCH: The Controversy Over School Consolidation in Rural Vermont

With a plummeting student enrollment and skyrocketing education costs, Vermont lawmakers decided last year to begin an ambitious and controversial experiment to consolidate its vast system of public schools. The law, Act 46, intends to dramatically reduce the number of districts in the mostly rural state-there are currently 280 of them-by 2020 using a series of tax incentives.

Supporters argue that by sharing resources more efficiently, the state will save millions of dollars and give students access to academically rigorous programs and more electives like the arts.

But opponents say the initiative stabs at the very heart of Vermont, with its hundreds of tiny school houses and, more importantly, Vermonters’ deeply-felt sense of local control.

In this report, John Tulenko of Education Week profiles a northern region of Vermont where residents are sharply divided on whether to combine its five school districts.

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