Frequently Asked Questions

Brookline Jamaica Newfane Townshend Windham                    Download a PDF file of the FAQ's


1. What is being proposed?


2. How will the change affect students?


3. How does the proposed WCED enhance student learning and increase instructional
efficiencies?


4. How will the decision be made?


5. Why is the situation different for Windham than the other four towns?


6. Why does Windham have to vote on the proposed formation of the WCED, since the
Windham School Board voted to withdraw from the RED Study Committee?


7. What will be the effect on property taxes?


8. Will there be any financial savings from the changed governance structure?


9. How will the change affect school boards?


10. How will a new school board be elected?


11. What happens to the existing schools?


12. Who would own the existing schools?


13. How will budgets be developed and adopted?


14. What will be the relationship among all the towns now in the Windham Central
Supervisory Union?


15. How will the change affect Windham Central Supervisory Union operational efficiency?


16. How are the smaller towns protected in the WCED?


17. What are the financial implications?


18. How will the change affect teachers and staff?


19. How will the change affect the negotiated teacher contracts?


20. What about a new school building for Jamaica and Townshend?


21. Why is the vote happening in October?


22. Why are there different terms for the school directors?


23. Are there any possible disadvantages in the proposed WCED?

24. Are there any possible advantages in the proposed WCED?


1. What is being proposed?
a. In response to a requirement and opportunity from the Vermont Legislature, five
(Brookline Jamaica Newfane Townshend Windham) of the nine towns in the
Windham Central Supervisory Union established a joint study committee to
consider the formation of a regional education district. After two years of study
and consultation with local school boards, the committee submitted a proposal
to the Vermont State Board of Education to form a modified unified union school
district called the Windham Central Education District (WCED).

b. The WCED would have one school board to govern the elementary schools in
the five towns as well as Leland & Gray Middle and High School. The existing
boards would be dissolved.

c. Board members would be elected by and from each of the five towns. The
number of board members from each town would be based on population.

d. The WCED Board would develop one budget for all the schools and the voters
from the five towns would vote on the proposed budget. School property taxes
would be reduced based on state incentives (see question 7).

e. The WCED would continue to be part of the supervisory union with the voting
structure of the supervisory union restructured to maintain the existing balance
of voting power proportional to the member towns’ population.


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2. How will the change affect students?
a. As children grow their personal and community experiences will broaden
beyond what is available in their own towns. Students will have:

■ A wider a range of opportunities earlier in their school years,
■ A circle of friends among children of other local towns,
■ Partners in academic classes, as well as theatre, sports, and other cocurricular
activities from a wider range of children, backgrounds, and
experiences,
■ Relationships for the future with peers extending beyond a single town,
and
■ A broader foundation for business collaboration and social relationships.


b. Reduce barriers and provide a stronger system for collaborative and
cooperative student programs among towns.

■ Unified, common calendars and schedules for efficient creation and
implementation of programs.
■ Broaden range of programs in arts, languages, technology, and cocurricular
activities.
■ Coordinate field trips to reduce transportation costs and increase
opportunities for more trips, eg., traditional end of the year trips
coordinated among schools.
■ Expand co-curricular activities available to elementary school students.


c. Provide learning opportunities for more successful transition to Leland & Gray.

■ Alignment of curriculum and instruction to better prepare students for
coming together in grade 7.
■ Support educational equity for all students.
■ Students come together in 7th grade with common and deeper
understanding of behavioral expectations.

d. Maximize flexibility to provide special education and related support services
where and when they are needed.


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3. How does the proposed WCED enhance student learning and increase instructional
efficiencies?

a. Improve flexibility in assigning personnel and use of resources to best meet
student needs across the five towns.

■ Teachers with special skills become more accessible
■ Share lesson plans and teaching materials
■ Combine classes for special projects
■ Meet enrollment challenges associated with small or large age groups
■ Use virtual connections and other technology for teaching and learning
■ Identify faculty leaders in various disciplines for mentoring/coaching


b. Increase opportunities for professional development and sharing information
and assessment techniques among schools to improve instruction.

c. Continue building a teacher culture where all teachers feel part of the same
team and share the responsibility for the success for all students in the five
towns.

d. Remove accounting and financial reporting obstacles to more easily analyze
grants and local spending in professional learning linked with student outcomes.


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4. How will the decision be made?
a. On October 8, citizens in all five towns will vote yes or no on the proposal to
form the Windham Central Education District, a unified school governance
system for all the elementary schools as well as Leland & Gray Middle and High
School.

b. In order for the proposal to pass, a majority of the voters in each town of
Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Townshend must approve the
proposal. Positive votes in all four towns are necessary for the proposal to be
approved.

c. In Windham, if the voters vote yes, then Windham will join the new school
district. If Windham voters vote not to join, Windham will maintain the existing
school board for their elementary school and will have a representative on the
WCED Board for matters related to Leland & Gray.


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5. Why is the situation different for Windham than the other four towns?
a. During the study committee meetings, current members of the Windham School
Board told the study committee that Windham was not interested being part of a
unified system for elementary education. They did want to continue being part
of the Leland & Gray Union School District.

b. The committee came to the conclusion that the creation of the WCED would still
be of benefit even if Windham voters decided not to be a member. For the
WCED vote, Windham is an “advisable town”.

c. The other four towns are “necessary towns” because the study found that
unless these four - Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Townshend all voted yes,
the WCED would not be beneficial.


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6. Why does Windham have to vote on the proposed formation of the WCED, since the
Windham School Board voted to withdraw from the RED Study Committee?

a. The Windham School Board supports L&G and wants Windham to continue to
be a member of the Leland and Gray Union Middle/High School District for
grades 7-12.

b. Since the proposed WCED could change the governance of Leland and Gray by
dissolving the LGUHS Board, Windham voters need to be part of the decision.


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7. What will be the effect on property taxes?
a. Residential property tax rates will be based on the per pupil spending of all
students in the WCED schools instead of the current system based on per pupil
spending in each town. Each town would have the same WCED “equalized”
residential school property tax rate. This “equalized” school tax rate would
continue to be subject to the common level of appraisal (CLA) adjustment that
determines the “actual” residential school property tax rate for each town.

b. The Vermont Legislature (Act 153, 2010) granted the following three tax
incentives to create the WCED.

■ In the first year, the WCED equalized residential school property tax rate
would reduced by 8 cents. In subsequent years the annual reductions
would be 6 cents, then 4 cents, then 2 cents. By law these changes are
limited to a maximum tax rate reduction of 5% for any year.
■ The new district would be guaranteed that the existing small schools
grants would continue for 5 years.
■ The Secretary of Education will award the WCED a grant of
approximately $130,000.


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8. Will there be any financial savings from the changed governance structure?

a. Simply changing the governance structure does not, in and of itself, produce
substantial financial savings. The change does however increase the efficiency
of the system that can lead to financial savings in:

■ increased administrative focus on student learning,
■ increased flexibility in assigning teachers and staff,
■ consolidated systems for technology; student data collection and
reporting; financial accounting, budgeting, and reporting; utilization of
facilities; contracting for goods and services; transportation; and food
service from five individual systems to one system.
■ one example of cost savings is the annual audit, present costs for the
separate seven entities (Brookline, Jamaica, NewBrook,
Newfane,Townshend, Windham, Leland & Gray) is approximately
$72,000. An audit of one WCED district would likely be less than half
this amount.


b. The consideration of a new school building for students in Jamaica and
Townshend has the possibility of producing substantial savings as has been
demonstrated by the Brookline/Newfane Joint School initiative completed in
July 2010. While a unified governance system is not the only way to move
forward on such a proposal, such a structure would be an effective way to do
so.


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9. How will the change affect school boards?
a. The existing boards would continue to govern their schools until June 30,
2014. After that time, they would complete any remaining business and then be
dissolved.

b. A new board would be formed representing the member towns to develop the
budget and govern the schools starting July 1, 2014.

c. If Windham voters decide to join the union, the Windham board would follow the
same process as the other towns. If Windham voters decide not to join, the
current Windham Board would continue governing the elementary school in
Windham.


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10. How will a new school board be elected?
a. The Australian ballot on October 8 in each town will list the candidates for the
proposed WCED School Board. If the proposal is approved by the voters, the
candidates elected will become the WCED School Board. The election of the
new board at the same time as the vote on the proposal for a unified school
district is required by the Vermont Legislature.

b. The initial election will be for staggered terms and subsequent elections will be
for three year terms. These initial staggered terms will provide for a continuity
of experience for the board in future years.

c. The population of each town determines the number of school board candidates
to be elected from the town. The number of board members to be elected and
the initial terms are:

■ Brookline - one three-year
■ Jamaica - one three-year and one two-year
■ Newfane - one three-year, one two-year, and two one-year
■ Townshend - one three-year, one two-year, and one one-year
■ Windham - one three-year


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11. What happens to the existing schools?

a. The existing schools continue to serve the same grade levels and towns that
they serve now.

b. A high priority of the new school board is to consider the building of a new
elementary school to serve the children of Jamaica and Townshend.


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12. Who would own the existing schools?
a. The WCED would own and be responsible for the existing schools and all
assets and liabilities, including debt and leases, of the current school districts.

b. If a school building was no longer to be used for public education, the WCED
would offer the building for sale to the town where it is located at the cost of one
dollar.


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13. How will budgets be developed and adopted?
a. A single budget would be developed for the operation of all the elementary
schools and Leland & Gray Middle and High School. Citizens in all towns would
vote on the budget. This would be the same process as the current
development and vote on the Leland & Gray budget.

b. If the WCED is formed, but Windham does not participate, the budget would be
presented to the voters in two parts. All five towns would vote on the grades 7-
12 budget. The four member towns would vote on the elementary budget and
Windham would vote on their own elementary budget.

c. Budget votes would be reported by town, but would be combined to determine
the success or failure of the vote.

d. The first budget vote for school year 2014-15 will be held by Australian ballot on
Town Meeting Day, March 4, 2014.


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14. What will be the relationship among all the towns now in the Windham Central
Supervisory Union?

a. The supervisory union will have the same responsibilities as it has currently,
including hiring the superintendent of schools.

b. Currently each of the 8 towns in the Windham Central Supervisory Union that
operate schools as well as Leland & Gray have three members each on the
supervisory union board. One town that does not operate a school has one
member. This is a total of 28 board members.

c. If the proposed WCED for five towns is approved by the voters, the supervisory
union board will be restructured with fewer members based on the population of
each town.


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15. How will the change affect Windham Central Supervisory Union operational efficiency?

a. The number of school boards would be reduced from 11 to 6 (from Brookline,
Dover, Jamaica, Marlboro, Newfane, NewBrook, Stratton, Townshend,
Wardsboro, Windham, Leland & Gray - to - WCED, Dover, Marlboro, Stratton,
Wardsboro, Windham). The Windham Central SU board would also continue to
exist.

b. The number of budgets, cash management systems, general ledger systems,
accounts payable, payroll cycles, CPA and State audits, working conditions
agreements, lease contracts, food service contracts, state reports, federal
reports, sets of policies and procedures, and similar requirements would be
reduced.

c. The supervisory union administrative staff would have more time to focus on
educational leadership, instructional effectiveness, and improvement and
implementation of policy and procedures.


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16. How are the smaller towns protected in the WCED?
a. There will be a two-vote system in the WCED decision making process that
ensures board members from smaller towns have a strong voice. Any board
member can invoke the two-vote process. The first vote will be the usual
method with each board member having one vote. The second vote gives each
town on vote.

b. In the future, if the WCED Board recommends that a school is to close, the
voters in the town of the school to be closed will make the decision. In the case
of NewBrook Elementary School, the combined voters of Brookline and
Newfane will make the decision.


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17. What are the financial implications?
a. Education finances of all five towns would be joined - one budget; one equalized
school property tax rate (before CLA)

b. Five-year assurance of small schools grants

c. Four-year tax rate incentive

d. Savings from WCED center on economy of scale (see questions 7, 8 and 15 for
more information)


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18. How will the change affect teachers and staff?
a. Teachers and staff who are currently employed by the five member towns would
now be employed by the Windham Central Education District.

b. The administration would have flexibility to assign teachers and staff to positions
in the WCED where they are most needed based on enrollment and specific
teacher and staff talents.

c. Teachers would have the opportunity to apply for open positions within WCED
without loss of seniority.


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19. How will the change affect the negotiated teacher contracts?
a. WCEA contract remains in place till June 2015.

b. Windham teachers become part of WCEA negotiations by the 2015-16 school
year.

c. Current boards make no agreements lasting beyond June 2014.

d. WCED Board negotiates new contracts for 2015-16 and beyond.


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20. What about a new school building for Jamaica and Townshend?

a. A priority of the WCED is to consider a proposal to construct a new school for
the students of Jamaica and Townshend to provide students in these towns an
improved learning environment and increased learning opportunities.

b. The experience of Brookline and Newfane joining together demonstrates
positive student opportunity and financial benefits.

c. Facilities and educational opportunities are an expressed need for Townshend
and Jamaica.

d. State construction aid is available for joining two or more schools together.

e. Any decision to move forward will require approval of the voters in the two
towns as well as a bond vote from the voters in all five towns.


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21. Why is the vote happening in October?
a. The timing of the vote is important as the decision of the voters determines if
the WCED or the existing boards develop the school budget for the 2014-15
school year.

b. An early October vote leaves sufficient time for either budget development
process.


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22. Why are there different terms for the school directors?
a. In order to avoid the possibility of a complete turnover of board members in
future years, the initial terms need to be of different lengths so that no more
than five of the eleven school board directors will be up for election in any single
year.

b. Once the WCED Board has begun, all future school director terms will be three
years.


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23. Are there any possible disadvantages in the proposed WCED?

a. Although the guiding articles allow the WCED to establish school advisory
committees at each school, there is the potential for the loss of community ties
to the elementary schools without the existence of the local elementary boards.

b. There are concerns that the WCED might be a more bureaucratic structure and
less responsive to communities.

c. If there was a need to shift a teacher from one school to another, there might be
a sense of loss and disruption.


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24. Are there any possible advantages in the proposed WCED?

a. Increased opportunities for students

b. Building a wider sense of community in the five towns

c. Economy of scale and stabilization of costs

d. Increased focus of administration on teaching and learning

e. Financial savings and state incentives