The panel accommodated requests from more than 30 House members to add more language from H.15, a bill once described as offering so much flexibility as to gut the intent of Act 46.
Barnard citizens voted to reject the study committee’s merger proposal, as voters wielded the only real power they had within this proposal process.
The bill would have allowed greater flexibility to respond to Act 46. The panel voted it down 9-2 after a brief revival.
Some said Act 46 had caused deep divisions in their communities and implored lawmakers to trust local people instead of pushing another top-down approach.
Whether the state will choose partnership and collaboration with communities in order to achieve the goals of Act 46 — or choose to entrench in rigidity will be decided in what remains of the legislative session.
A “no” vote would give our communities more time to work together towards fulfilling the goals of Act 46 while preserving local governance.
It plans to continue work on an alternative that would offer school districts new options while stopping short of making it easier for them to avoid merging.
The legislation would help districts comply with the law through “alternative structures” if they don’t readily fit into a merger. By one count, 82 towns face that challenge.