By merging, Wardsboro and Dover are in compliance with Act 46, the school governance consolidation law.
Under Act 46, schools that voluntarily merge by July 1, 2017, have access to tax incentives, including the retention of small schools grants and hold harmless protections, both of which are consequential to Wardsboro. Leading up to the reconsideration vote, the Wardsboro School Board took a strong position of support for the merger, saying they didn’t see any other option for the school under Act 46.
The River Valleys Unified School District will become effective on July 1, 2019. Between now and then, a new unified school board will be forming the policies and procedures that the new district will operate under.
Unified school board members were elected by each town at Town Meeting. Dwight Boerem, Barry Pearson II, and Richard Thorpe Jr. will represent Wardsboro on the new board. Richard Werner, Laura Sibilia, and Kerry MacDonald-Cady will represent Dover.
For the time being, there will be three school boards conducting business in Wardsboro and Dover. In preparation for July 1, 2019, the new unified board will work to govern the future district. Meanwhile, each town’s existing school board will continue to make decisions about their own schools, which for now remain independent of one another.
After July 1, 2019, the two separate boards will cease to exist and the unified board will remain the sole governance structure for the River Valleys Unified School District, which will operate one elementary school in Wardsboro and one in Dover.